Vole infestation in vegetable garden

Asked May 3, 2018, 7:23 AM EDT

Yesterday I returned to my community garden. I've had this same plot for 20 years. It's fenced with chicken wire approximately four inches in the ground and that is covered with a mesh fencing material that reaches to six feet. The community gardens are in a park. Some of the area is developed, and some is left natural. Over the last many years, the white tailed deer population has grown. The garden is full of holes, larger than a quarter. My garden neighbor says they're from voles. Last year they ate her peas as they were starting. How do I get rid of the voles, assuming that's what they are? I worry about diseases the pests may be carrying, and I can't imagine how vegetables will be able to grow. If a vole nibbles on the vegetables, will it inject elements into the plant and affect the other vegetables? I am a master gardener and master naturalist trainee.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

4 Responses

Voles can quickly reproduce and rise to pest levels.
Repeated trapping and habitat modification can help you gain some level of control.
A community garden situation is not the easiest situation as weedy, overgrown plots or areas nearby can help to support their habitat needs.
Clean up brush and weeds nearby. Then set regular snap-traps baited with applesauce or peanut butter, or peanut butter smooshed into a piece of cotton ball. Put a bucket or box over the trap to lessen the chance that you will catch a non-target animal like a songbird. Keep trapping.
Take a look at our page on voles here: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/voles
and an indepth article from Penn State here: https://extension.psu.edu/voles

Voles are rodents and can carry human pathogens. Any actual vegetable that has feeding damage should be discarded. Edible greens with feeding damage should also be removed.
Leafy plant parts that are damaged will not infect the rest of the plant or it's fruits.


That's quite a bit of work. Thank you for your response.

The community garden coordinator informed me that i am not permitted to set traps. She sent me this remedy. Can you kindly weigh in on this? I want to get rid of the infestation quickly and efgiviently. Thank you

There were many remedies suggested in that publication, including traps, both live and lethal.
(This not local btw- we don't have gophers here).
With trapping forbidden, we would still suggest eliminating weeds, groundcover, and litter in and around crops and cultivated areas to reduce the capacity of these areas to support voles. Nearby lawn/fields should also be mowed regularly.

You could also build a hardware cloth cover for your area that extends a couple of inches into the ground.