Friday, April 9, 2010

Voles Eat Japanese Maple

No one can say the voles around here don't have good taste when they decide to totally chew the roots off from one of my Japanese maples now can they? Grrrrrrr! I was wandering around a front garden when I came upon this maple laying on the ground. I immediately thought perhaps the wind knocked it over. No such luck. Upon investigating I discovered the roots had been chewed off. It had to have happened really quickly because this tree is in bud and still looked alive. Geez, what do you do when this happens? Drive on, gardening is like this sometimes.

In order to hopefully prevent anymore plants from suffering the same fate as the Japanese maple I went around to all the small trees and shrubs in the garden, moved all mulch away from the trunks, and stomped the ground down firmly. I found a few more shrubs with damage from voles as well as the Japanese maple. A prized fothergilla will most likely meet the same fate as the above Japanese maple but after packing dirt around it I am trying to be optimistic.

The population of voles in a garden is mind boggling and even with two cats outside, plenty of rodent eating birds and maybe a few snakes and rat poison, nothing seems to make a dent in the population here. The voles have to eat and they evidently spend the winter nibbling on roots all throughout the garden. This has been a bad year for them. Normally I don't lose any trees or shrubs and have only suffered major damage to perennials in the past. No such luck this year. But oh well, time to move on and forget all about it. Perhaps the voles didn't like the tree in its spot? Who knows. I guess they were very hungry. All I can do when I walk around the garden now is thank my lucky stars the voles didn't eat the very large trees because to see one of them fall might be a very bad thing....

in the garden....


Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

42 comments:

  1. Ew, how awful. We don't have to many of those, just moles and they are blind, not too much eating underground.

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  2. I have never heard of this behavior before. I thought they would only bother feeder roots. How frustrating for you.

    Jan
    Always Growing

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  3. Tina girl I'm so sorry about the vole thing .. the second time in my life to see these weird creatures was at our Dutch home .. in fact they did a strange thing .. some time during the night they (one after another) said "good by cruel world" and drowned themselves in our little back garden pond .. where the goldfish were too ..made us wonder why ? were they trying to catch the gold fish ? I was just glad not to run into them in real time ?
    Hope you can plant vole proof plantings .. say that really fast a few times girl ! LOL

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  4. Color me stupid, what's a vole?

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  5. Good morning all!

    Dawn, Lucky you to not have so many voles. Very destructive pests! Moles I can live with.

    Jan, One would think the feeder roots would be the primary target. I can't believe they did this either and it is most disheartening. I have to be more vigilant I think.

    Joy, That would be most terrible to come out to your pond and find these dead critters. Weird indeed.

    Darla, They are sometimes called field mice. They eat plants and plant material and are as prevalent as mice. Very pesky things!

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  6. Glad you like the verbena/petunia combo. That verbena has been in that container for several years, I just plop something different in it from time to time. I'm honored that you would like to borrow any of my gardening ideas. Eeew on the voles!

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  7. I am sorry about your tree. You may remember my vole post. My dog has caught two lately. I got a couple of kittens that I hope will help out. Have you tried a solar moler? It emits a vibrating noise underground to repel voles, moles, gophers, and shrews. I think we may try one. I'll let you know how it goes. Carla

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  8. Darla, It's beautiful!

    Carla, I do remember you post. I hate those voles let me tell you. I have tried the solar chasers in the house. I am not sure if they work or not but it might be worth a try. I did use a vole chaser thing you sprinkle on the ground by susceptible plants and it seemed to work. I need to step up my war a bit more I think.

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  9. Wow Tina, you are far more philosophical than I would be! Of all things - the Japanese Maple. I wish you were close enough for me to send some of my seedlings :(
    They say Australia is a tough country, but I'm rapidly deciding that my little corner of it isn't half as tough when it comes to garden eating critters that most of North America!

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  10. How awful about your tree. I only have one/maybe more mole. It's only in the back yard under the oak tree near the back of the house. Go figure. I hope you don't loose anymore trees/shrub.

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  11. Whoa! I can't imagine having a tree go over because of a small rodent. We don't get voles. 13 stripped ground squirrels like to dig in my yard (and eat my tulips). Saw one once with it in his teeth like he had a rose and was going to dance the tango. Sorry about the tree.

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  12. I remember those critters when we lived in Illinois but haven't seen them here in Florida, thank goodness! Maybe the fire ants drive them away. I hope you don't lose any more trees or shrubs to them.

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  13. Voles are awful! I've seen their holes around here and I'm just hoping the damage isn't too bad. I wonder if you could pot up the maple and get it to regrow roots?

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  14. Hi Tina, can't imagine how your cats miss these voles. What a shame to have that tree destroyed!
    Marnie

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  15. Oh no ! how frustrating. Maybe now there are other things growing they will move on. I have a similar problem with wild bunnies eating the only green succulent growth in my garden, emerging crocus shoots. I never did get to see them flower this year. Damn!

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  16. GLG, I had to kind of shrug it off though that is not usually my nature. I realized it could be worse so was happy with only one downed tree. It must be a good day. The irony is that this tree had been growing here four years and was finally beginning to look like a tree. Ha! Joke's on me. Thanks for your very kind offer of seedlings. J. maples are a favored tree but I might change my mind if they continue to be on the menu here.

    Lola, It was frustrating but ok. You live and learn. I hope it is a beautiful garden day for you!

    GSS, I suspect there was an Army of small rodents nibbling here. They are brazen little critters and I really would like to get an Army to fight them off. I can believe the squirrels were teasing you indeed. They are bad rodents as well.

    W2W, I bet you are right on the fire ants chasing the voles away. Hmmm, you know I think if it came to a choice between the two I'd have to go with voles. Never thought of it that way.

    Dave, It's too late on the maple. It's in the dump. It was really a complete goner. Very frustrating. Check your shrubs and trees.

    Marnie, They kill about one or two per day but that doesn't even make a dent. These rodents are very prolific. Grrrrr! Maybe I need more cats.

    Melanie, Those darned bunnies! I wish they could understand that if they were only kind and left us a few good flowers we might not mind them so much. Not to see a crocus is a bummer.

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  17. Tina - how terrible!

    The voles are bad here, too. They got to at least one of our new hollies where we're trying to grow a green fence along the parking area.

    The French drain that we dug has turned out to be a real good thing. With it being 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide; filed with a 4" pipe; filled with sharp gravel; topped with decorative gravel; then backed by a brick-sized edging... the voles are turning around when they hit the barrier at the top of the garden. Along the edge of the butterfly garden where we haven't finished the drain, they are going in!

    It's always something, isn't it? Deer...rabbits...voles...weather...

    We're a tough bunch as we keep on gardening!

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  18. OMG! That is UNBELIEVABLE! The poor maple and the poor fothergilla . Do Castor bean plants work for voles, or only moles? Tina, I so feel for you. I'm sending your voles bad mental vibes.

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  19. VOLES drive me NUTS! I can't believe they chewed on such a large tree. Little buggars. I guess they were very hungry?

    I wonder how many of my bulbs will survive the plunder this past winter?

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  20. oh my word! I never knew they would do that. It would make me sick especially with a prized Japanese maple.

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  21. Oh no, I know how you love the J Maples and also, they do not come cheap. I never knew anyone that had trouble woth voles till after you started your blog and with what you and Skeeter have had to put up with, I am glad we do not have a problem with them. Naughty, naughty little critters.

    I forgot to tell you yesterday but Uncle Rick got out of the hospital Wednesday afternoon. I was amazed that they let him out when he had only been given ice chips for 5 days to eat and on Wednesday they started him with broth and then let him go home.

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  22. I have lost many wonderful plants to voles and have found the only way to control them is with traps called 'Black Holes'. When my boys were at home I used to pay them $5 for everyone they killed. It is amazingly fast how quickly you catch them by taking a sharp pole, poking the ground until you find their main run and setting the trap. It is yucky, but better than giving them your garden to destroy!

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  23. Oh No, NOT a Japanese Maple! They are such garden destroyers and so small. Imagine if they were larger, YIKES! My Mother in Law lost a prized pink dogwood (a B'day gift from hubby) to the Voles. So I knew they would get to larger roots. As much as I love animals and believe they do belong on this earth, we have resorted to a vole death trap. OJ kitty is no longer doing his job of being a good neighbor. He has gotten lazy on me lately. The Voles must go!!!!

    How does removing mulch rid of Voles?

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  25. Tina, They are so very destructive! I am sorry to hear about you J Maple! I wasn't sure if it was voles who tunneled under many of my plants~~it turned out to be a few VERY rude chipmunks. But I can see the vole holes...We are lucky not to have gophers! gail

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  26. Oh yes! I feel your pain! We have gophers here and they do the exact same thing... gopher baskets work best to deter
    this. Planting euphorbia helps, too.

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  27. I had no idea that voles ate tree roots. I thought they mostly ate bulbs. I guess we are lucky to only have moles that dig around everything instead of eating everything. I hope the voles leave the rest of your garden alone and move on.

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  28. Thanks for your comment. I used it to get to your blog and I have to say I do like your choice in background color :-). I'm new to blogging and I hope someday my site looks as good as yours does! How do you get everything so much bigger? I'm blown away by your photos and the gardens I see in them...isn't gardening just wonderful - writing about it so fun! I've added you to mu blog list, I'm so impressed!

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  29. That's really bad! I like the way that you look at the situation! Hope the voles were satiated and don't do any further damage.
    We used to live in a home with a front and backyard with a beautiful garden when I was very young - about eight years old or so. I have sighted a mongoose running across the garden at times while playing in the garden and now I realize that they were keeping the rats in check! Your post brought back a long lost memory! Thank you so much, Tina!

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  30. I always thought Voles and Moles went after grubs on tender roots of small shrubs/plants/flowers. We had Moles a few years back....took two years to kill most grubs and sent the rest elsewhere.
    Sorry to hear about your Maples...learned something new.

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  31. Oh my goodness, Tina, I would be crying right now!

    It's ironic that you posted this today. I spent yesterday afternoon in the local Extension Office manning the helpline for the first of my volunteer hours as an MG. I received only one phone call the whole time--on voles! I did learn some things, though. Voles are quite a problem at the MG Idea Garden, and they've been setting mouse traps baited with peanut butter mixed with oatmeal. One of the educators in the office also recommended covering each trap with a coffee can or a piece of curved wire, like a wire basket, to keep other animals from getting caught.

    Sorry, you probably knew all that already, but I'm just so excited about all the knowledge I've acquired these past few months:)

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  32. That is so sad. I don't have voles at my house but my son has them. My daughter-in-law dug up all her rose bushes last year because the voles had taken over that garden. I think they are getting worse at his house too. The yards and gardens are all under-mined with tunnels.

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  33. Ugh! That's heartbreaking! I tried visiting you earlier today but for some reason my old pain in the but computer kept locking up loading your page. I'm using hubby's laptop now. ;) It's good to be back visiting you in the garden again. (pun intended lol)

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  34. Wow! I've never seen that before! I have to say though my cat has been very busy catching critters!

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  35. That sucks! :( Here I have to protect the Baptisias and Lespedezas, and I don't know how many losses they cause every winter.

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  36. O How terrible! Your maples are so lovely and I've always enjoyed seeing their photos. If you have its saved seeds, you'll probably have its offspring. PS Your red flowering quince is fabulous!!

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  37. Hi everyone -busy day but the yard is mowed so I'm happy.

    Lola -you're so sweet -many thanks:0)

    Lil Bundle is resting in my arm so I must go -ciao.

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  38. Hmmm, voles (and moles) are not something I've (knock wood!) had a problem with.

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  39. I'm so sorry to hear about your prized maple. Times like this you probably wonder whether these creatures with good taste would actually taste good with some salt and rosemary...

    No voles out this way, but gophers galore, including some eating away at a prized tree aloe that I've been nurturing for 20 years. I hope it makes it. Good luck with your battle against the voles!

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  40. What a shame. Have you tried planting mole bean plants? (I know, it's an old wives tale, and your problem is voles, not moles.)

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  41. I guess something chewed off my white bleeding heart at the ground, too. At least it's perennial, so it should be back next year. What a shame about your maple, but I guess we're usually a greater imposition on their world than they are on ours.

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  42. Eating tree roots? How rude! Some voles have no manners at all.

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