City offers tips to prevent and control voles, avoid damage
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:48 am
The long winter appears to be drawing to a long-awaited close, and right around the corner is springtime yardwork for many residents.
With the heavy snowfalls that Airdrie received this winter, many residents could notice significant damage to their lawns and trees caused by critters such as voles.
A vole is a small rodent that resembles a field mouse, and large population fluctuations is one of their characteristics, according to Airdrie Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Jeff Hughes.
“After a winter with a large snow accumulation, we often notice a higher vole population in the spring,” said Hughes.
The critters make their homes in yards with tunnel systems that damage lawns and trees.
The City does not conduct vole control as the animal is an integral part of the wildlife ecology as a primary source of food for carnivorous mammals, according to Hughes. The Parks department, however, is offering tips to prevent vole damage this spring.
Keeping lawns mowed and maintained is an important step to take in ridding your lawn of the pests, as well as eliminating yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings and wood piles.
Birdfeeder leftovers can also attract voles, so it’s important to keep the feed off the ground as much as possible.
Wrapping wire mesh around the bases of tree trunks is also recommended, as voles feed on tree bark.
“Voles eat the bark off the bottoms of trees and without that bark there to protect the tree, it can become hard for it to survive,” said Hughes.
Residents across the city can take advantage of the tips offered by Hughes and the Parks department, though residents who live closer to the city’s outskirts or near open areas should be especially aware of the critters.
“We find voles all over the city, but they’re definitely more densely populated closer to the outer areas (of the city) or near open areas like parks,” said Hughes.
To control voles or clean up the damage they may have caused to your lawn over the winter, it’s recommended to rake and fertilize the affected grass and it will rejuvenate itself over the spring. Local hardware or home and garden stores may supply pest control products.
Airdrie Home Hardware employee Beth Wagner shared some tips for ridding your yard of voles.
“We sell live traps that work for catching voles, we also have solar-powered repellents that emit sound and vibration into the ground that scares the voles off,” said Wagner.
“I’ve spoken with Mark Cullen who is the Home Hardware lawn and garden expert and his advice is that the best way to keep voles off your lawn is to have a healthy lawn; if you don’t have grubs for the voles to eat they won’t get into your lawn.”
Wagner added that deterrents like owl statues are not effective in warding off voles.
For more information on vole control, contact Hughes at 403-948-1885 or visit the City’s website at www.airdrie.ca