Underground critters are destroyingmy lawn!

Asked July 24, 2018, 1:48 PM EDT

Hi, I need help with a lawn problem. Early in the summer I noticed a patch of about 10' X 10' that was dead and the ground was soft. I didn't think too much about it until last week. The stretch of hot weather we had brought out a lot of weeds (my lawn looked real good before that). The bigger problem, though, and the reason I am writing you, is that the area described above has expanded significantly. From what people tell me I've got moles and/or voles in my yard. From what I've been able to find out, if there are moles or voles I would see mounds of dirt and raised ridges of dirt indicating where the tunnels are. I see neither of these. I see patches of dirt (more like lack of grass), some very short, round patches of dirt (see photo), and several holes (see photo) scattered throughout the yard. The holes appear to be about 1-1/2" in diameter and go into the ground at about a 45 degree angle. Obviously, this is destroying my lawn and so I need a solution fast! Ideally, I would like someone to come take a look at my lawn and advise me what to do about it. If that's not possible, I guess all you can do is go by the attached photos and what I've told you. In case the issue is moles and/or voles, I bought some Sweeney's poison peanuts. I hesitate to use them because I would think the poison could get into the ground water. Also, the directions say they need to be put in an active tunnel, which I am not able to identify. I've heard/read positive and negative things about using electronic "sonic spikes" to repel them. Do you have thoughts on them? I almost bought some but am unclear whether or not they need to be placed in an active tunnel which, again, I cannot identify. Also, wouldn't they just move the problem to my neighbor's yard? Like I said, I would prefer an in-person visit if possible. Failing that, an email response is good so I have a record of what you said, but a phone call along with the email would be nice in case I come up with more questions. Thanks in advance, Bruce Hoff 651-226-7593 965 County Road B W Roseville, MN 55113

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

HI Bruce,

We don't provide an in person service. You could reach out to a lawn care company and many of them do free consultations (Such as Rainbow Lawn Care). A call to your local DNR office wouldn't be a bad idea either to see how they recommend handling voles. I don't believe they're considered game animals, but you might want to check anyway.

I would recommend removing the weeds, as this is a source of food for the voles and continue to maintain your lawn as usual. Voles eat the tops of the plants, not the roots, so mowing will reduce their food source as well. If you have a large population, the poisoned peanuts would work, but it's really advisable to put those in a live trap so that the poison isn't out in the open and available to wildlife (or pets or kids) you don't want harmed. The best time to do this is in the fall or winter when their natural food supply is low. Snap traps, like the kind you get for mice, would also be useful. I am going to include some links below for further reading.

https://extension.psu.edu/voles
http://www3.extension.umn.edu/local/clay/county-horticulture-educator/article/voles-the-home-lawn
http://icwdm.org/handbook/rodents/voles.asp