Q: I have holes about 1 to 2 inches wide in my yard and tunnels through the snow. What could be causing them?
— Sheila Krakoff, Akron
A: It sounds like you have voles, said Marne Titchenell, a wildlife specialist with the Ohio State University Extension. Voles are sometimes confused with moles, but they’re different animals. Voles eat plant material; moles eat insects and earthworms.
Voles can damage plants by eating roots and other plant parts. They create surface tunnels in grass or snow and sometimes underground tunnels with openings like the holes you described.
If the problem isn’t too extensive, Titchenell said, you can catch the voles with snap-type mousetraps placed just outside the holes, baited with an apple slice or a mixture of peanut butter and oatmeal. Cover the hole and the trap with an empty, upside down plant pot or similar container to protect pets, children and other animals, she said. You can put something heavy on top of the pot to keep animals from tipping it over.
If you have a large infestation that’s resulting in damage to your landscape plants, Titchenell said you might want to call in a professional pest control operator. You can also try using a rodenticide labeled for use on voles, she said, but it’s critical that you cover the bait the way you would a snap trap to keep other creatures out of harm’s way.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.