There are few things less unnerving than discovering evidence of pests tunneling beneath an otherwise impeccable lawn. Gophers, moles, and voles are three of the most popular types. Yet, do you know how to tell each animal from the other? This article will focus on two of these critters--vole vs. mole--and how to recognize their differences.

Mole vs. Vole: What is the difference?

What is the difference between mole and vole tunnels? Do you know the difference between moles and voles? You will soon recognize moles because of their front feet and pointed snouts.

Often confused as a field mouse and sometimes called a pocket gopher. Voles eat grass, seeds, bulbs, and flower roots. When searching for food becomes difficult to find; it will ingest shrubs and tree bark. These rodents have shorter tails than house mice and are approximately five inches long.

What is a Mole?

Before getting into what a mole is, let us make it clear what they are not--a rodent. A mole has a diet consisting mainly of insects, meaning they are insectivores or meat eaters. They spend most of their lives underground and are almost blind.

A mole creating tunnels underground to look for food

These critters tunnel underground in search of insects and other food sources to eat. Moles travel at a speed of one foot per minute. These small creatures live in underground burrows, creating extensive damage to flower beds, grass, gardens, and tree roots.

Descriptive Characteristics of a Mole

Mole’s feet are four to seven inches long, shaped like paddles, with large claws for digging. This creature has a head and elongated snout, with no external ears and almost invisible eyes. Their black fur has no grain, giving them ease of movement within their tunnels.

What Identifying Marks Do Moles Leave In The Earth?

Moles leave specific marks in the soil that identify they are underground. These marks are called mounds and runways. A runway is a shallow, lengthy tunnel that can appear like small ridges along a lawn’s surface.

These runways are soft and feel sponge-like when stepping on them. Rarely will one see the opening of a mole’s runway. How to verify how active a runway is, a step along the complete length of it, and leave it alone. If the next day, the runway has returned to its former tunnel-like shape. It is an active mole runway. It is inactive if it remains flattened out.

How Moles Find Food

A mole’s answer to the source of food access is the mounds. A mound is a tunnel, only deeper and ardently supervised for prospective food (insects, etc.) tunneling into it. Mounds normally show up along the exterior edges in the shape of a cone. Typically, these mounds are shaped uniformly and are known for being grass killers.

Descriptive Characteristics of Meadow Voles

Meadow Voles have a similar appearance to meadow mice. They have heavy, compact bodies with short tails, rounded ears that are partly hidden, and tiny eyes.  It grows from five to eight inches in length, with orange-colored prominent teeth. In a day, this critter can eat up to sixty percent of its total body weight.

A meadow vole is a clever little opportunist, using established mole tunnels created by moles to dig their own golf-ball-sized exits. These small creatures don’t eat plants. They gnaw on the roots of the plants. You can have a beautiful flower garden one day, and the next day, your flowers might be drooping. Your garden plants will suffer rapid vole damage once they start gnawing at the roots.

A meadow vole in the garden

How Does Vole Damage Plants?

Although these critters don’t eat plants, the tunnels they make wreak havoc on the plant's root system. In contrast to the mole, it is indeed a rodent. Voles gnaw at anything they can get their teeth on. Particularly after the snow melts, they will gnaw shrubs and the base of trees.

These rodents will damage potatoes growing in a garden, as well as planted flower bulbs. Yet, the primary food source of voles in lawn is eating the blades and stems of well-groom lawn grass. Vole tunneling upsets the root systems of the plants, and they create runways that make a once beautiful lawn unattractive.

Do Voles Eat Plants?

Voles prefer to live in areas with dense vegetation. They find sustenance by consuming a mostly vegetarian diet. Whenever food sources start running low, they will move on to another location.

This could well be your vegetable garden. One sign you have a vole infestation is when plants begin turning yellow or start to wilt.

What if You Have Voles in Your Vegetable Garden?

Voles are not agile climbers. Therefore, you can protect plants with some fencing material made of half-inch mesh. This fencing needs to be a minimum of one foot high, going into the earth six to ten inches down.

In addition, there are several chemical and natural deterrents-garlic, cayenne powder, castor oil, or onion. You might also try ammonia or even some nitrogen fertilizer, whichever could help on how do get rid of voles. Just mix the ingredients with some water or soapy water. And pour into a spray bottle. Spritz the vole tunnels with this solution. Keep in mind following the rain. You will have to reapply the solution.

What do Vole Holes Look Like in a Yard?

Moles and voles are alike in that they both design various runways and tunnels all over your lawn. Yet, the similarities between these two critters end there. The vole normally creates surface tunnels, consuming grass and roots along the way to their burrows.

Voles also create smaller runways about two inches wide, just beneath the surface. You will discover vole holes under the leaves and plants that lie low to the ground. Ensure you check for holes in areas that are extremely leafy around your garden.

Vole vs. Mole holes under the leaves and plants of the ground

Vole Problem vs. Mole Problem: Which one do you have? 

Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon when Elmer Fudd’s carrot crop suddenly begins getting literally pulled underground? One by one, each carrot disappears back into the ground, flashing to the scene below of Bugs Bunny pulling them down. If this scene is familiar, you likely have a vole problem.

Moles are voracious insectivores, excellent for grub control, beetles, and earthworms. They can eat up to 100 percent of their body weight daily. This averages fifty pounds of grubs, beetle larvae, and earthworms each year.

Moles use a toxin in the saliva to paralyze their prey. This allows the critter to store a food source until they are ready to eat. If you have noticed any marks that look like bites on your bean plants, you likely have a vole problem.

How to Tell if You Need Vole Control

Voles are approximately five inches long and can be distinguished from field mice by their much shorter tails. Voles live in thick vegetation they use as nesting material.  They also love the bark of mature trees, using their sharp teeth to remove the bark from the base.

Similar to the field mouse, vole populations increase quickly because of how rapidly they reproduce. Vole populations can triple in only a matter of weeks. If you notice a problem with the voles, you need to contact professional pest control services.

Mole vs. Vole: The Kind of  Damage They Create

Moles and voles, although both capable of causing a lot of damage to flowers, are two different critters. Both are small and if left to their own devices, capable of creating extensive garden and lawn damage. If your lawn is mysteriously experiencing damage, you could have a mole vole invasion.

How to Tell if You Need Professional Pest Control?

Few things are more disturbing than seeing the damage all over a well-groomed lawn. You will recognize it in early spring and fall when moles and voles are most active. The first signs of moles and their damage are the fan-shaped mounds and bite marks on green vegetation.

Homeowners try several methods of mole control, from vibration and ultrasonic devices to chewing gum. These methods of mold control and pest control have been proven mostly ineffective.  People have even tried mothballs, but they do not work either. It is against the law to use them because it is believed to be pesticide misuse. Another way to deter moles is with products containing castor oil.

Other Ways to Control Moles

Other control measures of mole control homeowners use are poisons, yet, are not the best defense against moles. Some use pellets or gummy worms that contain a poisonous ingredient--bromethalin. It is placed inside the active tunnel. However, this can be hazardous to pets, humans, and other animals because of the chance they might try to eat it. There is also the chance that baits filled with poison may be washed away and introduced to water sources. Always read and follow all instructions and warnings before applying poison as pest control.

Gummy bears to control moles

How do you tell the difference between these pests?

The easiest way to tell the difference between moles and voles is the first letter of their name. Remember, moles start with the letter “M”--and are meat eaters. They eat a diet that consists of grubs, earthworms, and insects. On the other hand, voles start with a “V” and are vegetarians. Voles have a diet consisting of plant stems, roots, and seeds. Voles love congregating in areas such as bird feeders filled with seed and flower beds.

Moles have large paws made for digging and tiny, nearly invisible eyes. Moles are not rodents; they are insectivores.  You likely don’t have an entire family digging around in your yard because they are solitary animals.

Both pests have many predators, such as cats, dogs, and wild animals. You might wish to enlist the assistance of your domesticated pet to help rid of these rodent pests.

The Difference between Voles and Mice

Voles are often mistaken as moles.  But more often, people confuse them as mice since they look like mice. Often, they are mistakenly referred to as field mouse or meadow mouse. However, you can tell the difference between the two by its tail.

A mouse has a tail almost as long as its body, while a vole’s tail is much shorter. The smallest is the woodland voles, less than one ounce in weight and no more than four inches long. In addition to eating seeds and grains, mice also eat dead animals.

How to get rid of Voles

Regarding how to get rid of voles in garden, habitat modification is one of the most effective means of vole control. This is because these little critters need covering and prefer not to eat out in the open.

Spending most of their life above the ground, meadow voles are bigger than the smaller underground dwelling pine voles. Meadow voles create damage to fruit trees and the base of plants. Whereas pine voles wreak havoc on the root system of trees and plants.

How to get rid of voles

Call a Professional

Is it Moles Voles? It is imperative to correctly identify which of these common pests you have to get the appropriate rodent control. Moles and voles can quickly create havoc on an otherwise healthy lawn or plant.

Contact the professionals at A.N.T. Pest Control New Lenox; we know the best ways to repel moles and voles. Call us now, and make mole damage a thing of the past.

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1200 S Cedar Rd #2D/E
New Lenox, IL 60451


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