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Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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foraygardengirl
Dec 8, 2014 7:01 AM CST
I discovered late this fall that voles had made their headquarters right under my prized Japanese tree lilac. I tried putting snap traps out with no success. Apparently they are very smart little buggers. I understand they do not hibernate and could literally eat the roots of my tree over the winter. Anyone know how to get rid of them in the wintertime? When we had a snow melt I could see all their squiggly trails. Never had these in my yard before. How awful! Help?
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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goldfinch4
Dec 8, 2014 9:49 AM CST
I've had very good luck with granular Plantskydd Vole Repellent. (You can purchase it on line directly from Plantskydd.com)
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Dec 8, 2014 10:00 AM CST

Plants Admin

A good cat is the best solution. Smiling

Failing that, snap traps work, but they need to be be pre-baited. Voles are wary of new things in their environment so you need to put out baited traps, but DON'T set them (peanut butter mixed with oatmeal is a good bait). After a few days, they'll get used to the traps and start eating the bait. Then you can re-bait the traps and actually set them. One question, have they ignored the traps so far, or have they triggered them but escaped? If they've triggered the traps and escaped, they are going to be extremely difficult to catch in the future.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
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foraygardengirl
Dec 8, 2014 10:05 AM CST
Kent, they have taken the bait without getting caught. I have used both apples and peanut butter. I don't like the idea of poison, but I did try some of the pellets balled up in peanut butter and put down the holes. Either they didn't eat it, or it didn't work.
I found some info on line about baking soda mixed with corn meal or flour. Anyone ever tried that? At least it isn't toxic.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Forum moderator
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KentPfeiffer
Dec 8, 2014 11:28 AM CST

Plants Admin

Well, that's a problem. Sad They are smart enough that, once they've figured out what a trap does, they are unlikely to be caught. That's why pre-baiting is necessary, you first have to convince them that the trap is nothing to fear, then you can catch them.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
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foraygardengirl
Dec 8, 2014 11:55 AM CST
Smart little varmints. I have been traversing the web and every time I find something that sounds interesting, I also find posts saying that the method doesn't work. Frustrating! Are professional exterminators able to deal with them? If I can just get this group out from under my tree for the winter, I can take steps to repel them starting in the spring.
And by the way, I have two cats but I no longer let them out. Never had pests, rabbits, or anything when I had outdoor cats, but it is now too dangerous to let them out.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Forum moderator
Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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KentPfeiffer
Dec 8, 2014 12:49 PM CST

Plants Admin

Well, I'm not really a fan of cats. We have one because my wife and kids wanted one, but they can certainly do a job on rodents. Our cat only kills the occasional vole, shrew, or young rabbit, but I think the mere fact that she's around makes small mammals less inclined to take up residence in my yard. Unfortunately, it has a similar effect on birds. I do appreciate the fact that she likes to hang out in my cherry trees, though. She's not there all the time, but the birds don't seem willing to take the chance that she might be in the tree. It's nice being able to pick cherries without the robins having pecked holes in half of them.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
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foraygardengirl
Dec 8, 2014 12:54 PM CST
goldfinch4 said:I've had very good luck with granular Plantskydde Repellent. (You can purchase it on line directly from Plantskydd.com)


Chris, I am surely willing to try this, but do you think sprinkling it around in the winter would cause the voles to move?
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Dec 8, 2014 12:55 PM CST
goldfinch4 said:I've had very good luck with granular Plantskydd Vole Repellent. (You can purchase it on line directly from Plantskydd.com)


Chris, I am surely willing to try this, but do you think sprinkling it around in the winter would actually cause the voles to relocate?
:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:+:
Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Dec 8, 2014 1:01 PM CST
I have been surfing the web on this subject, and have found these methods...if anyone has experience with them, please let me know if they work or are a waste of time:
Baking soda mixed with corn meal, flour or cocoa powder
Plaster of Paris mixed with same things as above
Juicy Fruit gum
Bucket of water with a plank up to the top, so they try to get a drink, fall in and drown (problematic in Minn. as the water will freeze)
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Forum moderator Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Seller of Garden Stuff I sent a postcard to Randy! Sempervivums Sedums Region: Wisconsin Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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goldfinch4
Dec 8, 2014 2:55 PM CST
Well. I dont think it would hurt to sprinkle it around - especially where you see their tunnels. If you have any periods of thawing I'd definitely try it then.
Cubits Store: The Sempervivum Patch - plants, containers, accessories!
Also stop by Timber Treasures and Garden Buddies on Cubits
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Dec 9, 2014 10:31 PM CST
A good Rat Terrier or Jack Russell will also make a big dent in the population.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Dec 10, 2014 6:22 AM CST
A surgeon friend swears by this for eliminating any rodents: Soak peanuts in antifreeze, and put them in the area. Of course, not a good idea if you have pets in the yard. But you can put them under an upside down flower pot, staked with a stick through the drain hole. That will keep birds away from them.

No PETA lectures, please.

Karen
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
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foraygardengirl
Dec 10, 2014 6:44 AM CST
Lynn, I already have a large dog so a terrier is not an option. I was thinking of soaking apples in antifreeze ... I hate to do things like that, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I have tried the bucket of water since we had a few days above freezing and the baking soda, both with no success. I see three new holes!
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 10, 2014 8:48 AM CST
We had a vole population explosion here this year and I tried just about everything that I found recommended. None of it worked. I did spray the deer repellent form of liquid Plantskydd on the plants they were felling but it didn't bother them in the least. Nor did cayenne pepper. Nor did diluted castor oil (which according to a study I saw does work but only at full strength - since I was actually having to spray directly on annual plants I didn't know if it would damage them so didn't try). The only thing I tried that worked was a "tin cat" trap. Once they go in there for the bait they can't get out. You can get them in hardware stores and farm supply stores around here. They look like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Victor-Live-Mouse-Trap-M310/dp/B00004R...

I seemed to be mostly catching young ones, though, I'm wondering if the older ones were too fat from eating the plants to get in! I've caught the bigger ones in the past in Havahart type traps but those also catch chipmunks during the summer. That may not be such a problem in winter when the chipmunks aren't around.

Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Dec 10, 2014 11:18 AM CST
foraygardengirl said: If I can just get this group out from under my tree for the winter, I can take steps to repel them starting in the spring.

Yes.
I'm thinking that winter is probably well underway in MN and that your chances of encouraging the voles to relocate of their own volition ( Hilarious! pun intended) at this seasonal point are nil.
I suppose if your ground is not frozen yet you could try habitat destruction at the base of your tree, but all the potentially effective eviction extremes I can think of --like digging out all of their dens and decapitating them with the shovel or flooding them out by turning it into a a swimming pool--could threaten the tree as much as the voles (or more) Sad
Your prized tree is in danger of at least some amount of vole-induced damage, though, and to protect it you will probably have to resort to the gruesome options for exterminating the voles.
Trapping--if you can even get them to go in a trap to get caught--will only eliminate the few voles that you can trap. It would be great if all the pregnant mommy voles would venture into the traps but they don't generally cooperate like that.
So your best bet is probably something toxic to kill the voles and depending on your choice of poison and bait and their bait acceptance, you may have to prebait without the toxicant first and then offer multiple--successive feedings with the toxicant to get all of the voles.
I'm sorry Jeanie--good luck with that!

Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Dec 10, 2014 11:29 AM CST
Jeanie, please let us know if you find something that works for you.
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Dec 10, 2014 2:20 PM CST
Habitat destruction at this point would equal total yard destruction...I keep finding new holes. Once the ground is covered with snow I won't be able to find the holes. I hate to do it but may have to go the poison route, if they will take it. So far they haven't touched it. This time I will try pre-baiting though. These are apparently very smart little destructive creatures. I may try the tin cat traps too.
Did I mention I also have a whole herd of rabbits? I fully expect to have a completely naked yard in the spring Grumbling
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
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gemini_sage
Dec 13, 2014 8:39 AM CST
I don't know if this would work or not, but since you have cats, I wonder if putting what you've scooped out of the litter box in tunnels, holes, around your lilac, etc. would help deter them?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Replace your lawn with a garden!
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Bee Lover Sedums
Hostas Dog Lover Xeriscape Region: Minnesota Heucheras Butterflies
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foraygardengirl
Dec 13, 2014 8:53 AM CST
Neal, I have tried that and they just abandon that little area and dig a new hole a foot away. I don't think they will go far since it is winter. I decided that I will have to resort to poison and if that fails, to a professional exterminator. I can take steps to repel them in the spring, but for now I will just have to kill them in order to preserve my tree. I hate to do that, but nothing else has worked. I ordered a sort of pipe-like bait station to make sure other critters don't get into it, and a specific bait for voles...should arrive next week. Crossing my fingers it will work. If it does, I will share the method on ATP.
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.

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