University of Maryland Extension

Voles - Groundcovers

vole damage

Voles, also known as meadow mice, are very plentiful in many landscapes. They are often confused with a mole. However, unlike the mole, they feed on plant material and spend more time above ground. There are actually two species in Maryland: the meadow vole and the pine vole. Voles are active day and night, year round. Their home range depends on population and food. It is usually ¼ acre or less. Voles only live two to sixteen months. They may breed throughout the year, but mostly in spring and summer. Litter size ranges from one to eleven (average is three to six).

An elaborate surface runway system, one to two inches wide, with many burrows is an easily identifiable sign of voles. One problem associated with voles is that they eat plants and their roots. In addition, their runways and tunnels can also cause roots to dry out, creating problems for many shrubs. They are particularly harmful to the roots of boxwoods. Voles will also use mole tunnels to feed on plant roots. Voles may cause extensive damage to orchards and woody landscape plants in the winter when they girdle the bark from the lower trunks.
Management: Control voles using snap-type mouse traps baited with apples placed in the surface runaways or burrows. Eliminate weeds, groundcover and litter in and around crops and cultivated areas to reduce the capacity of these areas to support voles. Lawns should also be mowed regularly. Place small piles of pea gravel around the base of fruit trees to prevent voles from girdling the lower trunk during the winter. 

Photo Gallery

Vole or meadow mouse.
vole surface tunnel
Surface tunnels are lined with grass.
Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2020. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.