This year we’re getting an unusual number of calls about vole and mole damage. At first glance it can be easy to confuse the source of the damage, but the two are very distinct animals, and the degree of damage is also quite different.
Moles (which has the impressive sounding Latin name of Scalopus aquaticus) dig tunnels underground, potentially doing quite a bit of damage, and making for squishy walking. It’s like having subway tunnels in your lawn. Moles do not eat plant material – they are going after grubs and earthworms. The common treatment for removing them is to apply grub control in the spring, and again later on if necessary.
Sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice, voles (Microtus arvalis) are clearly less taxing to look at, and less damaging to lawns. They like to tunnel under the snow, but stay above the ground, consuming grass, and also using it to make their nests. They will also go after bulbs and roots, but will attack these from above. Once the snow has melted the tracks on the lawn can simply be raked and if necessary, re-seeded. If you are having serious problems with bulb and root damage, your best bet would be a basic mouse trap (dogs and cats might help as well).