Voles are commonly mistaken for moles, and vice versa. Oddly enough, they actually have very little in common despite their name similarity. While the vole is a rodent, the mole is an insectivore. Their appearance has several distinct differences, and their diets are different.
Despite their differences, moles and voles can both be destructive pests and it is important to know how to spot them.
The mole diet mostly consists of invertebrates such as earthworms with the occasional nuts. Some moles can detect, catch, and eat their food faster than can be seen with the human eye. They are ferocious eaters, tunneling in search for food constantly, sometimes up to 100 feet per day.
Voles prefer to feed on grass, seeds, bulbs, and other plant life. One of their more destructive eating habits is the habit of girdling bark off of trees and shrubs.
Moles are small mammals, 6-7 inches in length when full grown. They have short, smooth hair which makes burrowing easy and are gray to dark brown in color. Their most distinguishable features are their long noses and webbed, paddled feet. Their eyes and ears are so small they are barely visible.
Voles are small rodents, about 5 inches in length. They resemble a mouse more than a mole, with a stout body, rounded head, and short tail. They are brown to dark brown in color with noticeable ears and eyes.
Moles are very solitary creatures, only coming together to reproduce. While the female mole will disregard other moles they encounter, male moles have been known to fight each other when they come across another male mole in a tunnel.
Unlike the mole, many voles are monogamous creatures. After reproducing, the male will often help raise pups. They reproduce quickly, which can result in the colonization of an area in a very short period of time.
Moles can create havoc in beautiful landscapes due to their burrowing habit. Turned up rocks can create issues with farming machinery, tilled soil can create weeds, and molehills can kill a lawn.
The vole is more likely to cause major damage in a yard. While moles can cause indirect damage to roots by burrowing around them, the vole will actively chew on roots and bark.They can create unsightly tunnel markings on landscapes, and like to venture above ground to chew on your garden.
There are several effective methods to rid your property of a mole or vole invasion. Below are a few steps you can take on your own if your yard is being taken over:
• Natural predators can be brought to the property to provide a natural solution. Snakes, owls, dogs, and cats have been known to hunt moles and voles.
• Keeping grass trimmed and landscapes clear of brush can discourage burrowers from sticking around.
• Trees and saplings can be wire-wrapped at the base to prevent damage from voles or moles. The wire should be close to the trunk, at least a foot deep and 12-18 inches above ground.
• Cultivating your soil on regular basis will help prevent new tunnels from being formed, and possibly even destroy some existing ones.
• Trees that produce fruit, buts, or needles provide a prime food source for voles. Keep the ground clear of these to discourage voles from coming around.
Unfortunately both moles and voles can be especially persistent and these methods may not do the trick. If your problem is not so easily resolved, we recommend calling a licensed pest control professional. The experts at Advanced IPM will happily evaluate the problem free of charge and recommend the right solution for you and your budget.