Damage from voles can be a very unpleasant sight in the spring when you see your lawn for the first time in months. To make matters worse, vole damage can seem to appear that much more dramatic when combined with all the other conditions affecting the lawn, such as snow mold disease and winter kill.
Plus, they just look so darn cute! Who wouldn't want to watch a Disney movie centered around a stubborn vole? I know I certainly would.
Truth is, voles can create a lot of stress for your lawn (and life) if left unchecked during the winter months. To avoid this, you'll need to learn about vole damage and the tell-tale signs that can lead to it.
What is vole damage you ask? Read on to find out!
What Are Voles?
Voles are small rodents very similar in size and appearance to mice. They are herbaceous and tend to be prevalent in areas that can provide them with suitable cover to hide from predators and other dangers. These can include wooded areas, parklands, bushes and shrubs, and tall grasses.
Vole damage is most prominent during winters with long, continuous periods of snow coverage. The snow provides the voles with a sense of protection from natural predators, as they can move about freely under the snow cover without exposure to the outside dangers.
How Does Vole Damage Happen?
Voles tunnel along the surface of the lawn and are protected by the snow that blankets the ground. The pesky critters create turf damage by feeding on the grass plants tissue and also from continuous “wear” from the traffic of tunnelling back and forth across the lawn. Voles do not feed on the roots or crown of the grass plant, and therefore the damage they cause is usually not considered severe.
Recovery can often take place on its own when damage is minor. If your lawn is damaged, lightly raking up the areas of matted down turf can usually do the trick. When damage is more severe and the tunneling has been extensive, a more aggressive approach including overseeding, topdressing, and slitseeding may be required to repair the damage.