Friday, March 11, 2011

Varmints! Vole Hunting With the Apple Test

The first step in vole eradication, I have learned, is determining where they are and are not. This is not as easy as it seems. These guys are crafty and delight in confounding Jane Homeowner. I hear their squeaky little giggles, but I've got news for them!

As I said, if they weren't under and in the house, I wouldn't care. These suburban voles haven't done the landscape damage that the rabbits have, and I'd prefer not to deal with them, actually. But they've invaded, and must be found. Their underground tunnels might be invisible to me, but I see where (I think) they come and go. And this is where we attack at dawn. Okay, not necessarily at dawn.

Finding the first hole was easy: it was stepped in while cleaning up winter trash from the lawn! That hole is definitely not from the underground drainage. I know this for a few reasons, one of which is that the hole is only about 1.5" across. Vole-sized. It's right there near the front of the house, where we've heard the scratching and sensed the fur. I highly suspect this is an active entry point. Now to determine for certain if the hole is active. It doesn't make sense to bait/treat an area where the varmints are not active. They could abandon a hole at any time for any stupid vole reason.

Marshall Warren of North Carolina, who developed a really cool vole bait system, recommends the apple test. You put a slice or two of apple near a suspected vole hole, cover the hole and apple with a bucket and weight it down, then check in a few days to see if the fruit's been nibbled. Nibbles = active vole hole. No nibbles = try it a few more days to be sure. Absolutely no nibbles = not an active hole. I placed the tests on Friday late morning. The apple (used half, ate half) cost a mere .20 and is a good first-line effort in this process.

All prepared and waiting for Mr. Vole! I've marked my calendar to check on Monday. I suspect major nibblage. I will be stunned and confused if that front hole isn't active. In all, I have four of these apple tests set up around the house. Two are in the back about three feet from each other on the inside and outside of the corner gate -- both head under the garage. Two are in the front, near the scratching source, on either side of the front windows, about 20 feet apart. The two test areas are at opposite corners of the house. Interesting. There's another place where I think there may be vole entry, but I'll wait till next week to test that area.

Stay tuned as Ninja Mom Vole-Getter persues the pesky critters around the house. To follow the saga, select the category “Voles” and view all the posts.

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