We often get calls and emails with concerns regarding moles and voles, and questions of “How can I get rid of them!” We will then ask a few questions to narrow down if the pest is actually a Mole or a Vole. Sometimes the customer will say, “I’m not sure which it is, Why does it matter? Just get rid of them.”
Well it really does matter because even though their names are similar and they are both underground critters, they are interested in two totally different things, therefore the way you target them is two totally different ways. You see, It’s kind of like regular ants or Fire Ants. Both are ants. But the bait that you use for regular ants is entirely different than what you use for Fire Ants. Because the two different types of ants are after two totally different types of food.
So, how do we tell the difference between Voles & Moles? First off, when I am speaking with you vs. writing in an email, I will often refer to Moles with an M, and Voles with a V. This is because it is so easy to mix up what we’re talking about. Voles do tunnel underground and they love to eat the roots of plants. If you have a shrub or small tree that just suddenly dies and when you go to remove it you notice that it doesn’t have much of a root system, then you have Voles with a V. Unfortunately for Voles, there is nothing that we, as Licensed Pesticide Applicators can do to kill them. However, as you are going to replant in that area, there are steps that you can take to deter the Voles from eating your plant roots again. Two great options include the installation of a Vole King Basket around your new plants, or you can add a product called Permatil into your soil around the new plants. We have had really good success using both of these techniques. There are more options and other techniques, so if this is something you’d like to hear more about, do let us know!
Now, on to Moles with an M. Moles are meat eaters! Mole problems tend to be much more common than Vole issues. Moles with an M are typically feeding on Grubs and worms. Believe it or not, up until four or five years ago Moles were protected in North Carolina and it was illegal to kill them! I know that is hard to believe, but it’s a fact. Back then, you could use repellents to chase them out of your yard and those worked decent. However, like all repellents the scent wears off after time and you either need to treat with more repellent, or your Mole comes back to visit your lawn again. Now that the ban has been lifted, we are able to start using a Gummy Worm type of bait to kill Moles. This bait works pretty good, however you have to remember these are wild animals and they live underground. There is no true way to predict where and when they will tunnel through your lawn. For best results we do look for active tunnels and we insert the gummy into the tunnel so that the Mole thinks it’s a big worm and chows down on it. The big catch with that though; will the Mole access the tunnel that the worm is placed in? Yes, No? No one truly knows.
Are there other options? Yes, I’m glad you asked! As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Moles with an M love eating Grubs. So, we can offer a treatment that targets Grubs and by doing that we are taking the Moles favorite food source away from them. Guess what they do when their favorite food is not around any longer? They go away. Sounds easy right? Not exactly. Timing is key for this because of the life cycle of Grubs. When Grubs are the biggest and Moles are the most active, that is also the time when Grubs are the hardest to kill. So, the best thing to do at that time is to let nature run its course until the proper timing for treatment is there. Yes, big box stores sell Grub control products year round that state “treat and they will die!” However, university studies show that it is unlikely to get good control with incorrect timing. The ideal timing for treatment is typically going to be around the time that Japanese Beetles are active, which in our part of North Carolina is typically between June 1st and July 4th. The reason for this is that Grubs are actually young Japanese Beetles. They leave the ground and fly around feeding on Crape Myrtles, Roses, Japanese Maples, Cherry trees and many other plants. They are typically out for about a month and then return to the ground to lay eggs and start the cycle all over again. Treatment of your lawn for grubs around that time frame is ideal because it is so much easier to kill a small Grub vs. a mature Grub. By doing that you are taking out the next generation of Grubs, therefore minimizing the food that the Moles want!
Here’s another tip; You can also target Japanese Beetles that are feeding on your plants with a systemic treatment to help minimize how many of those are returning back to the soil.
I know this seems like a lot of information and a lot of hoops to jump through as far as timing. Believe it or not, we have only just scratched the surface with information on this topic. The bottom line is, if you’re having issues with Moles, Voles, Grubs or Japanese Beetles feel free to contact us and we can help you. We will likely ask a lot of questions to help narrow down the correct issue, but one thing’s for sure: We will provide you with the proper treatment options!