Cohan Fulford wrote:The main issue with voles here is under the snow in winter- usually they have just set up shop in 'grass' areas (grass, clover, etc, our turf is quite varied with native plants and escaped agricultural forage species) and in spring leave behind some piles of grass etc. Probably some effects on the smoothness of soil would bother a lawn keeper, but we don't have lawns, just mowed areas, so I don't care about that..lol So thus far, they haven't bothered me much.
However, as I build more gardens, both food and ornamental, there could be problems - I'm wondering what I will see this spring in woodland beds and rockgardens since the snow cover came early- Oct 20! and is still there, and probably will be at least another month if not longer.. The snow, of course, protects them from predators, and they can do what they will for months. I've never seen them do anything to trees here, but flower bulbs are very vulnerable (some people plant them in hardware cloth cages, but that sounds like a lot of work if you are planting many), and digging in other beds can be a problem- I lost a large plant of Pulsatilla vulgaris last year, though they left the bulbs in that bed alone.
I'm wondering if anyone has had good results from any of the repellents available? They don't even need to leave my property, just move over a couple of metres away from beds onto natural vegetation
We have pocket gophers too, though it seems like only one at a time, and not always.. so far I've been lucky to have no serious damage, but the potential is there.. I do like the idea of planting things they particularly like in a number of scattered spots. What about herbs to grow either as live repellent or scattered dry for that purpose?
We used to have a german shepherd who actually hunted them through the snow in winter! She would stand still- listening to or smelling them? then occasionally pounce. In the spring we'd find her results when the snow melted. I doubt she made a major impact on their population, but maybe some dent....
We do have owls visit, and likely coyotes- though no tracks outside the paths, so they aren't catching voles in winter. There is a spot where we dump our vegetable scraps over winter, and some critters or other from the bush visit it to forage. This year I've noticed large wing marks in the snow around it- I'm guessing owls are trying to catch some of the visitors? I have not seen any clear evidence of an owl catch/kill though: no fur or blood traces, just the wing marks and a big of disturbed snow.... I wonder if this could be set up somehow even more in favour of the owls? Don't know if it's voles visiting, or mice or only squirrels and rabbits (quite certainly the last two).
Susan Monroe wrote:I've got a rodent dog that I can lend/give you. She's pretty tenacious. And she doesn't eat them, apparently, just leaves the bodies lying around for you to keep score.
But there is that problem with the holes, though... I've suggested that she fill them in when she's finished, but all she does is look up at me, wag her tail, and say, "What?"
Victor Johanson wrote:I'm about to find out if the voles will be problematic here...I've never hindered them, and when I built a hugelbed three years ago, they proceeded to turn it into a giant vole condo. Now I see them running all over the place. I thought maybe last winter they would do some damage, but all I found were a few nibbles. This summer they ate on a few spuds and carrots and felled some grain stalks, but not enough to cause alarm. They were everywhere, so I think this winter will be a good test. Up here people think I'm nuts to tolerate them, but I hate to go on a killing jag until I know I have a problem, and so far I don't. I also think the aeration they introduce may help warm our cold soil. My theory is that the reason most people have problems with them in their orchards here is that there is nothing but fruit trees and some grass. What else are they supposed to eat? I'm in the midst of my "plant everything everywhere" campaign, so there are all kinds of vole comestibles available. I know a guy who spreads sunflower seeds to lure them away from his plants. The main problem here isn't with them eating the roots in winter, because the entire root zone is frozen solid, so instead they end up girdling trunks. I lost a Nanking cherry that way, and one apple tree was girdled except for a tiny isthmus of bark. It survived, although it took a long tome to recover, and is still more of a bush than a tree ten years later. I finally got one apple from it a couple years ago. But anyway, now I have plenty more selection, so I'm hoping it will enable the voles to remain part of the system without destroying its main function of providing me with what I want.