Monday, October 25, 2010

An Alternative Method for Vole Control

This morning Frances posted an excellent tutorial on how to control voles in the garden.   I hadn't planned on doing a post today, but just by chance this afternoon my own Vole Patrol was on duty, inspiring me to present an alternative method of controlling these pesky varmints that can dig up your precious plants.  For this, the lazy gardener's method of vole control, no hardware cloth or tools are needed. 

All you need is one dog who has a keen sense of smell and likes to dig.

You will notice the now deceased vole to the left of the photo.  For the faint of heart, I did spare you the sight of the other more disgusting photos.  Suffice it to say that Sophie still thinks everything is a chew toy.

The second requirement for this method is a cat.  In this case, the credit for the vole capture goes to Tarzan who initially caught the little creature.  How Sophie managed to wrest the vole away from Tarzan is a mystery, as I missed this exchange.  However, Tarzan seemed content with letting Sophie have the spoils.  Cooperation in completing garden chores is always a good thing.

While my method produces the desired results with a minimum amount of work, if you do have a problem with voles, I highly recommend you follow Frances' advice.  Besides, there are a few disadvantages to my method: you can't plan the procedure, the digging used to draw the vole out is sometimes harder on the plants than the vole was, and it's hard to convince Sophie that her new "toy" is not allowed in the house!

I apologize if this left you a little disgusted, so here's a much prettier photo to cleanse your palate.  While I was convincing Sophie to come back inside without the vole, I noticed a Monarch floating above the garden.  I was so happy to see it, because I thought all the Monarchs had left already, and I followed it with my camera for several minutes.  Instead of landing, though, on a pretty bloom remaining the garden, it stopped in the grass.  Who knew I still had dandelions blooming in October??


  1. Oh dear..... I have come at a bad time, right in the middle of a vole control. Oh well..... as long as it isn't rabbits!
    Lovely butterfly, though I know that cats do chase these too.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. If there is a vole here I don't have to worry about Luna bringing it inside because it would be inside of her as soon as she caught it. She thinks they are tasty little treats. Cute post. I haven't seen a dandelion in some time. Everything is having a difficult time growing here.

  3. Dandelions are determined.
    Glad you have vole protection in place.
    I saw two monarch butterflies Saturday. I kept telling them to hurry and go south. A cold front is coming.

  4. Perhaps you can bring Tarzan with you on your next trip west. We have a disgusting amount of moles and voles and as soon as we get rid of one others moves into the territory. Years ago I used to go on a tear, and we tried EVERYTHING on the market. The only satisfaction was the people who sold the products. Now I figure there isn't much I can do to stop them... we live in the country after all.

  5. I'm glad I don't have to deal with them myself.

    It would be interesting to see how Sophie got the thing from Tarzan.

  6. I think your method is quite effective! Dealing with the aftermath can be a bit messy, though.

  7. Nature isn't always pretty, and it looks as though Sophie and Tarzan are channelling their inner beast. I think vole patrol is a good thing to do so. I usually comment on what a pretty girl Sophie is, but I must say, Tarzan is a very handsome ginger boy. They make a good team.

  8. Would you lend Sophie and Tarzan out for chipmunk patrol? The chippers are driving me crazy! They certainly require a lot less work then Frances' method. Gail

  9. The hole digging isn't really a good trade off. I have a friend who has offered to lend me her cat. My three dogs are worthless. Taking them out back at night instead of the side because some'bunny' is eating my roses and Rudbeckia. (could be a deer....)

  10. i don't think i've ever heard of a vole! cats are amazing catchers, aren't they? i don't like to think about it much though, but i know what goes on outside at night when the cats are out. do you find your dog gets along well with your cat? we have considered getting a dog in the future, and i wonder how our cat will take it.

  11. Rose, When I saw the word "vole," I became riveted, fixated, and intent to find out how you cope with this constant irritant. It's been a six year battle here and I've documented some pretty gruesome evidence of the damage and the perpetrator(s).

    My Jack is like your Sophie (a dog that savors voles!). We do the digging routine which doesn't bother me too much but others (like Jack's master) does not look kindly on the practice. His way is to "coexist." How do you do that with varmints like voles?

    The best method (besides the dig and flood out method) I've found is to position solar beeping devices (buried in the ground) around the perimeter of the garden. They still cross over here and there - that's where Jack and I will attack with vengeance!

    p.s. If you have a Harbor Freight in your vicinity, these devices can be found there for a mere $9.99 - covers up to 30 feet!

  12. Ah! I admit I spotted the headline for this post on my sidebar yesterday, Rose and had to take a while to gear myself up for it :) Actually it wasn't as lurid as I thought it might be and it was a delight to see dear Sophie again as long as I kept my eyes averted from her deceased playmate.

    Needless to say I would be thrilled to see a vole to photograph but quite understand that if they were a garden pest here I might feel very differently!

    Lovely to see the Monarch is still gracing you with its beautiful presence.

    BTW I seem to have lost you from my followers (I'm sure you used to be there), I hope it was nothing I said :)

  13. Our cats seem to have forgotten how to hunt. We even put up a poster of mouse by their water bowl with the words "Our Enemy" but they refuse to be reindoctrinated.

  14. Hi again Rose :) Thank you so much for popping over again, it was so sweet of you and I really didn't intend to make you feel awkward! I must admit I too find it far easier to keep up with my favourites via the sidebar rather than the dashboard.

    I perfectly understand your exasperation regarding the voles and am quite sure I would feel exactly the same if they were ruining my plants.

    I do hope you won't find my next post too uninteresting. It will be a departure from my usual ones and will only feature one bird which may have you wondering what all the excitement is about! I suspect it is quite familiar to you but is a rare occurrence in this country :)

  15. I am not disgusted in the least. Just very intrigued! It is good you found something that works for you!

  16. Hi, Rose;
    My bad dog is worthless at vole patrol but lucky for me the cat is highly dedicated to the job. My daughter's horrid cat (Frau Kitler) brings the critters into the house, unharmed, and drops them in your lap when you least expect it.

  17. Hey, whatever works! Where we live voles are usually not a problem for the plants, but mole crickets are. The cat doesn't find them tasty, unfortunately. Good thing the armadillos do. I never see them digging because they come around in the wee hours of the night. I'm glad they like the crickets, but they tend to make a mess digging in the lawn and flower beds, just as Sophie does. Sometimes I wonder which thing is worse?

  18. Don't dogs just look so cute when capering with a critter they've caught? (That is, as long as you don't look too closely.)

  19. So wonderful to have such delightful garden helpers! Sophie is a good dog indeed.
    I love seeing the Monarch and the dandelion. Perfect combination.
    Hope the storms have been gentle with you and your trees.

  20. Maggie May, Thankfully, the rabbits here can outrun Sophie:)

    Lisa, Sophie will eat about anything, but she considers rodents as toys.

    Gardener, Yes, we're supposed to have cold temps later this week, too, so I hope the Monarch is headed south.

    Di, Living in the country is great, but yes, there are certain disadvantages you just have to learn to live with.

    Susie, Tarzan must have released the poor thing, as Sophie usually doesn't take things away from him.

    Rose, The body somehow disappeared...I don't think I want to know where:)

    MG, Tarzan and Sophie make such a funny pair, and they're about the same color, too.

    Gail, Oh, Sophie would have a field day with those chipmunks!

    Janet, Yes, I think cats are more effective for garden vole control.

    Rachel, Voles are like a cross between a mole and a mouse. Sophie gets along so well with the cats, but it did take a little time at first for the cats to accept her.

    Amy, The solar beeping devices sounds intriguing. The local Master Gardeners use mousetraps with peanut butter in the Idea Garden, but I wouldn't want that here with my pets, not to mention the birds.

    Songbird, I know this is a bit squeamish, but I hope it wasn't too bad. If it was anything but a vole, I wouldn't be sharing it with you:)

    Rosey, I don't think this is a foolproof method:)

    Kate, What a funny name for the cat:) We used to have a cat who did that, too--I was never able to convince her I didn't enjoy the presents.

    W2W, Aramadillos--how cool! I know, though, it's a trade-off as to which is worse.

    MMD, I had fun watching Sophie, but I kept my eyes off the vole.

    Sherry, the winds were strong, but thankfully no damage here. The rain was much appreciated, though!

  21. Pat, oops, I missed you! Your poster is pretty funny--now if only the cats would read it:)

  22. Our cats (mostly Prissy) hunt voles, and sometimes do a bit of digging but nothing major. I'm grateful for every bit of help I can get dealing with the vole population.

    I'll bet you're glad it was Tarzan and not Sophie who caught the vole! ;)

  23. Looks like you have the perfect weapons against those little pests. Glad to see your furry children get along and work as a team. Wish my little Spaz and the cat Mooch could do this. ;)

  24. Well done, sophie and tarzan! A splendid job.

    We used to have a cat who was a hunter-eater but preferred the heads leaving the bodies lying around.

  25. I'm still queasy about death in the garden. A downside living near a natural area.

  26. Dear Rose, I like your method way better than mine! Thanks for the linkage. Tarzan probably got bored with the vole and allowed Sophie to have at it for a while. Cats are so lofty sometimes! Glad you got a shot of the monarch. We worry about the strays once frost hits. Hope yours gets a move on!

  27. I like your organic method of vole control Rose! ;)


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