The open area behind our back fence is home to hundreds of voles. The hills look like this:

enter image description here

During the summer, I can successfully restrict their intrusion into my yard by putting poison into the holes.

But, nearly every winter we get significant snowfall that ends up sticking around for months. By the time it melts, much of the lawn has been torn up with vole runways, which do grow back eventually but often leave the lawn significantly lumpier.

Is there any way I can prevent the voles from running around under the snow cover undetected, eating my lawn?


6 Answers 6


Voles are tiny, so I'm sure they're coming through any fence you have.

Have you tried a fine wire mesh instead? The kind of thing I'm thinking of is available at Lowes/HomeDepot/etc and is a finer mesh than normal chicken wire.

You could then lay that along the base of the fence, and bury it. I don't know how far they dig down, but 6in or a foot might be deep enough?

I've never really thought of voles or shrews as being pests but it looks like they are in the more temperate parts of the US. YouTube has a number of vole-hunting videos! One popular technique uses those "bulldog clip" mouse traps that grocers have and baiting them with peanut butter, but that would only work in summer and you would still have your "reservoir" of never-ending-voles out back.

  • +1 for fine wire mesh (¼inch to ½inch I think is ideal). +1 for burying it, depth given should be ok! for voles, but to keep out all known borrowing/tunneling "large" animals (pests) in North America it is recommended to go down 2ft (600mm).
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 17:34
  • Yes 2ft sounds reasonable for larger animals. And in pre-mixamatosis days I understand you had to go deeper to keep English rabbits outs.
    – winwaed
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 22:03

"Generally" speaking, voles, moles, etc move into an area (setup home) due to two main reasons:

  1. Abundance of food = makes them happy and keeps their "bellies" full.

  2. Lack of natural predators = makes them happy and feel (very) safe.

In addition to the answers already given, I think attracting natural predators, especially birds of prey might offer you a solution worth investigating a little more eg

  • Attract hawks and owls into their area, by putting up a roost in the middle of that area. A simple cross beam "T" six or more feet off the ground will give those birds of prey a convenient platform to hunt from.

Some additional resources worth a read (IMHO):

I've used a castor oil based product to deal with moles once, but I can't say for sure if it worked or was just a factor in getting the moles to move on.


I'm not sure where you're located, but the lawn company that I use here in Wisconsin says they have a spray that they put on the lawn in the late fall that protects the lawn from the voles during the winter. We have terrible trouble with this as well every winter. We haven't tried this treatment yet, but will this winter. The other treatments for ticks, etc that we have tried have worked great. We use BioLawn out of Hudson, WI (http://properorganics.com/Home.aspx).


In addition to chemical and mesh repellant techniques, you could have a look at things like these noise repellors which appear to work. They use a noise that is inaudible to humans but apparently really annoys moles.

  • 1
    I recommend playing Metaltech down the holes :P Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 16:12
  • Hahahahaha - play it from small loudspeakers in every garden in the world - I'd get great royalties!
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 16:48

That looks like my yard too!

One technique I have heard (maybe this is for moles and does not apply for voles?) is to kill the grubs in the yard. Friends have has success putting down grubex and then they go away to another yard. So essentially you are killing the food supply thus forcing them to move on.

I might try this next year.

  • I would have thought most of those grubs and things (moles eat worms too!) are good for the soil and the garden's health.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 15:59
  • 1
    @winwaed, "generally" grubs aren't seen as a benefit in a lawn soil, as the grubs eat the rots of the grass (killing the grass). Where as worms "generally" come to the surface and pull-down dead matter to eat underground.
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 23:48
  • I was perhaps thinking more broadly than you are - the vast bulk of animal life in a lawn or garden is either beneficial or neutral.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 23:56

castor oil 70-30 mix with water and spray trails and border gone in 2 weeks

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