It's party time for moles and voles. I see lots of activity. Though moles spend the majority of their lives underground, they do leave visible mounds and tunnels as they burrow deep into the soil for food (mainly earthworms int he winter) and warmth. As early as last week, those all too familiar mounds of soil started showing up in lawn and bed areas. This kind of activity can be unsightly, disturb root systems, and cause considerable damage to lawns. Moles quickly multiply, so we best take control of the mole!
Seriously, corrective measures are the prudent thing to do. Traps and poisons are readily available at garden centers. They are quite effective and easy to use, but you'll need to know the best placement. Moles create meandering tunnels searching for food. Not all tunnels are reused. Additionally, when the food source is gone, they move on. This makes it difficult to know which run is active. An easy way to determine activity status is to flatten a mound or tunnel. If it's reopened within a couple of days, you'll know there's sufficient activity to place a trap.
Voles are another source of complaint in our landscape and considered to be more destructive than moles. To find food, voles burrow and eat the root system of a desired plant. They can also eat the bark at the base of any given plant. This compromises the vascular system directly under the bark. Plants will struggle, if not eventually die with this kind of abuse.
Not all winter pests come in ounce size trouble. Deer and cute little rabbits can cause havoc in the winter months. Rabbits can girdle plants by eating the bark around the trunk of a shrub or eat tender shoots on lower branches. Burning Bush is a favorite. Wrapping trunks and using deer and rabbit repellants are very effective, but need to be re-applied monthly. This is sometimes hard to do over the course of the winter.
This will be my last newsletter until spring. If any questions arise over the winter, I am here to help. In closing, I would like to wish you and your family happy holidays and an early spring!