Voles (meadow mice) are members of the rodent family. They can cause considerable damage to landscape plantings, and to a lesser extent, turf, particularly at this time of year when food sources become harder to find.
These small rodents with tiny ears, small dark eyes, and short tails can explode in numbers to several hundred per acre where there is a good grassy habitat and lack of natural predators.
Voles seldom burrow underground like moles, but rather make runways or paths through the turf canopy. They may on occasion use an existing mole tunnel to travel short distances.
Unlike moles that feed primarily on earthworms, grubs, and other insect larvae, voles feed on plants. The bark of thin-barked trees and shrubs is their preferred food. The girdling of these plants can become severe enough that the plants are weakened and eventually die. Succulent plants such as Hosta and turf can often be eaten to the ground, but usually come back once the voles are removed.
Published January 30, 2006
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org