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One of the most frequent pests in our gardens is rodents, Voles in particular. Characterized by the popular cartoon critter which sucks the plants into the ground completely, this of course is not entirely accurate.
Voles are 'field mice' typically with big ears and short tails, and more commonly migrate from wooded areas where they find protection from predators. Voles do sometimes follow the Moles run as it is easier than digging their own, to which they are capable of doing as well. They locate a desirable plant and burrow underneath and move the family in. There they consume the plant roots until there is nothing left and your plant falls over and dries out. You can lift it straight up to see nothing but gnawed nubs at the stem. Then they relocate to the next desirable plant.
There are many ways to deal with these notorious critters. A hungry cat is always useful. You can use mouse traps and peanut butter or apple slices, but you only get one at a time. And if one of the victims bleeds on the trap others will typically avoid it afterward.
That brings us to my preferred solution - the bait station. First you need to locate the entrance hole near the plant under attack. Usually it is within a couple feet of the stem and about the size of a quarter. It goes deep and filling it with water never seems to end. Motomco/Tomcat has a refillable bait station complete with 16 baits. I prefer to use pliers and crumble the bait into smaller bait pieces, to a size similar to your fingernail. This enables the vole to carry it back to the nest, feeding the entire family. Set your refillable bullet bait station next to the hole. Cover the entire bait station and the hole, as this will protect it from other critters, and because voles are nocturnal. If there is a hole in the cover pot, tape it up. Check the bait station daily and refill any poison which was consumed. Refill the bait station daily until they stop feeding or back fill it with dirt. Move to the next hole and start over.
Motomco/Tomcat bullet is a refillable bait station easily accessible to refills. It is weather resistant and tamper resistant to children and pets. It can even be used indoor or out, although you generally don't find voles indoors. Those would be house mice.
We have two forms of rodenticide, the small Hawk Place packs similar to other poisons and a new Non Toxic Mouse Control called MouseX. This one is safe to use around pets and livestock, and does not cause secondary kill to house pets or wild predators. Great progress in critter control!
There are two other methods of protecting plant roots. Permatill will protect plant roots when incorporated into the soil around the root zone and also top dressed over the roots. It is sharp and abrasive which cuts the paws on critters digging their way to the roots.
And we finally have a pre-made stainless steel wire mesh 'root cover' called Gopher Shield. Slide this over the roots of your new plants. Fold the excess over top of the root ball and pin it down with anchor pins. This will prevent critters from getting to the roots while the roots are able to absorb water and nutrients while getting established. It is does expand some as the roots grow. This is another handy product coming in 1 gallon and 5 gallon size. I can order 15 gallon size if there is a demand for them.
The World of Voles
*Motomco Bullet Bait Station
*Gonzo Gopher/Vole Shield
Peninsula Hardwood Mulch, Inc.
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