In my article on Winter Vole Damage
I wrote about what voles are, where you are likely to find them, and how to identify vole damage. In this article, I share some ideas how to prevent vole damage to bamboo container plants, and how to trap a vole. Click on the thumbnails to view a larger image.
Vole Damage in the Greenhouse
In December, we covered some of our tender bamboos in the greenhouse with tarps to protect them from an unusually prolonged cold spell. You can probably guess at this point, that the covered plants were the ones targeted and damaged by voles. When it snows, the little buggers come up to the soil surface. Under the cover of snow, they create a network of furrows in the grass left by their feeding. This activity also puts them on the same plane as the nursery fabric covering the floor of our greenhouse, and they are drawn to the cover and food provided by the tarped bamboo. So, if you are covering plants in or out of a greenhouse, and you live in vole country, you should be checking for damage every day. Once the little buggers get a taste for bamboo, the only way to stop them is to kill them.
Trapping a Vole
Forest Kitty on patrol
If you see signs of damage, you can trap and kill voles with plain ol' mouse traps and a bit of apple as bait. Surface traps (i.e. inside the greenhouse) should be under the tarp, and placed where voles are active. Or, if you happen to know a kitty with a big game hunter attitude, you're in luck. The vole activity our greenhouse "stopped dead" after it warmed up enough for my Forest Kitty to return to hunting in the greenhouse.
Setting a vole trap
To trap vole outdoors, find a vole hole, and dig down to clear an opening in the run. Set and bait a trap in the hole (pictured right). Be sure to clear the dirt from the run, so the vole doesn't trigger the trap by pushing dirt on it. Cover the hole with a piece of scrap wood to prevent the trap from being accidentally triggered.
Vole caught in mouse trap
If there is a vole to be had in a particular run, you should have it in a few minutes or a few hours. Reset the trap in the same run, because you may very well trap more than one vole in a run. Remember, covering your bamboos in winter will attract voles if they are in the vicinity. Cut your losses short by checking your bamboo daily, and set traps as needed.