Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Voles and Moles- Landscape Scourge

Meadow Vole 

Although the names sound similar, moles and voles are entirely different landscape pests with different diets and different ways of affecting the landscape. CrabappleLandscapEXPERTS explain the differences between these animals. 

University of Maryland photo
Voles are tiny, brown, mouse-like rodents with big front teeth but short, stubby tails that create runs in the grass or burrow under the mulch at the soil line. They are vegetarians that are particularly damaging to landscape plantings during the winter when other food is scarce. Because Georgia Pine Voles are low on the food chain, they can reproduce rapidly, with litters every three weeks that build up tremendous (and voracious) colonies quickly (up to 300 voles per acre).

Vole damage- trunk is girdled
Voles are active both day and night all year long, and eat seeds, nuts, bulbs like tulips, rhizomes and tubers like iris, the solid crowns of perennials such as hosta and daylilies and even bark, girdling the trunks of your favorite hydrangeas or finest tree roses at ground level and killing them. One day a plant appears healthy and green and the next it looks a bit wilted. On closer inspection, though, the soil is moist and it does not need water.But if the gardener gives a leaf or branch a tug the entire plant comes up in your hand! All the roots have been severed from the stems or trunk and the plant is a goner.

Mole is nearly blind with only tiny ears
Moles are not rodents but are often confused because of the similar names, the appearance and tunneling habits. They are a bit larger, often with grey fur and specialized forefeet with powerful digging claws that do a “breast stroke” through porous soil. 

Moles are carnivorous hunters that search for earthworms, grubs and soil-dwelling insects. While they don’t eat landscape plants, their tunnels can expose the roots of shrubs and trees to air, provide access for plant-destructive voles, and cause  sprained ankles for people treading unknowingly among the tunnels.

Mole tunnels- unsightly + dangerous
Moles make unsightly tunnels under the ground in lawns or garden beds, rarely surfacing because they are essentially blind. These solitary, territorial creatures are typically limited to one or two per location, but they tunnel at a great rate (up to 15 feet an hour) and quickly can make a maze of a fine turf.

Give CrabappleLandscapEXPERTS a call to solve your digging animal pest problems at 770-940-9739. 

Digging Deeper: Georgia Cooperative Extension Service in Cobb County has put out a flier listing the differences

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