If you take pride in your home and garden, you may find few things more annoying than a dirt volcano or fresh tunnel marring your picture-perfect grass. This can be a telltale sign of a mole or vole infestation. How can you know what type of rodent you're dealing with, and what are your options to eradicate these pests for good? Read on to learn more about some of the differences between these two members of the rodent family, as well as some of your prevention and treatment methods if you'd like to avoid the resulting damage to your garden and lawn.
What are the differences between moles and voles?
These small animals are often deemed interchangeable, but they are actually quite different from each other when it comes to their tunneling process. Moles dig their tunnels underground, searching for grubs and other sources of protein; the dirt trails and hill eruptions you observe in your lawn are the result of moles coming to the surface (or digging near the surface) in search of food.
On the other hand, voles tend to tunnel through packed snow or other aboveground debris, leaving the soil relatively undisturbed but creating thin trails atop the grass once the snow melts. The lawn damage wreaked by voles tends to be less noticeable than that caused by moles, but both can be frustrating for homeowners who want nothing more than a smooth, uniformly green lawn.
What are your best eradication options for moles and other tunneling rodents?
Both moles and voles love to feast on grubs, earthworms, and other small invertebrates; as a result, the most effective extermination method is often more preventive in nature. By applying grub killer to your soil and reapplying until you notice a decrease in your mole population (signaling an eradication of grubs), you'll encourage your moles to search for food elsewhere. Voles, albeit somewhat less destructive than their mole relatives due to their above-ground tunneling methods, should also follow suit.
Another (far more lethal) option involves carbon monoxide. If your home has a CO detector, you're probably already aware of the potential danger high levels of carbon monoxide can wreak on humans and other oxygen breathers. But CO can come in handy when you need to rid your lawn of moles quickly (or in situations where other eradication methods haven't been successful).
Simply sticking a tube or hose into a mole hill and connecting it to a CO-producing piece of equipment can be enough to completely fill the underground tunnels with carbon monoxide, killing moles just a minute or two after initial contact. And because carbon monoxide is heavier than oxygen, it can stick around in these tunnels long after application.
However, one disadvantage to this method is that it is fairly indiscriminate – instead of specifically targeting moles (like grub removal or ultrasonic sound), it can also kill rabbits, ground squirrels, snakes, and other animals you might not consider pests. This is one reason you may want to consider your less-lethal options before bathing your topsoil in carbon monoxide.
If you do choose this path, you'll want to first check the laws in your state, as well as any city or county ordinances that may apply, to ensure your use of carbon monoxide as a pest control device is legal. Some states and local jurisdictions have placed some significant restrictions on the use of this extermination method, and the last thing you want is to find yourself on the receiving end of a civil summons for violating a local ordinance. Instead, you may want to pursue targeted poisons or other lethal (but legal) extermination methods.
For more information and assistance, contact a rodent control company in your area.