Down with varmints

 Posted by at 17:01  Down with
Jun 022014
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Don’t hurt Bambi

In the Northern California foothills, the varmint most discussed is deer. Bambi love on the part of the 99 percent of Americans who never see a wild animal means that those of us who live where they do are powerless to stop them from eating their landscaping. Deer are not the problem in my patch of suburbia dropped in to the mountain wilderness. Too many fences and dogs to make it worth their while. No, the big problem in my environs is voles.

What the heck is a vole?

Those were my exact words upon moving to Nocal and chatting with the local nursery man. It turns out I had seen them but had thought they were mice. Voles are related to lemmings and muskrats, I learn and are omnivores but as I am also learning this year, they love plants especially mine.

Population explosion

For some reason this year, the hills are alive with the scurrying of voles. I was oblivious to this population explosion until my bedding plants began to disappear the night after planting.. “Snails!” I thought and  began baiting the next planting with no results. Next my green bean plants were cut off as they began to unfurl the first true leaves. My response was more snail bait but the results were unsatisfying. There were no snail trails and no dead snails in spite of the continuing damage. I tried a new snail bait with no better results. I was getting really cantankerous at being outsmarted by varmints that I couldn’t even identify.

Eureka moment!

Then it hit me. All summer, our cat had been bringing carcases to the back door. We thought this quite cute and bragged about our mouser. Then  I began to notice that the backyard slope was an active rodent zone. There were so many voles that you could put yourself to sleep counting them as they ran from bush to bush. Now I knew my antagonist but what could I do. Mousetraps seemed unworkable. Poison would endanger our cats. Surely there was something that would protect my plants from these voracious varmints.

When in doubt ask Google

Google turned up a solution. Not only did it promise to keep the voles from my plants, it was ecologically friendly and wouldn’t even hurt them. It was too good to be true. This solution didn’t have the satisfying closure of dead bodies but at this point, my honor and my garden was at stake. I was willing to accept a compromise. I got some of the stuff and scattered the granules around my flowers and vegetables, hoping that it would at least allow some of the plants to recover.

It is like watching BP control the oil spill

Now, a few days later, I check every morning. The damage seems to have stopped in the treated areas but I can’t be sure. Maybe the voles are just waiting for the plants to grow a little more before finishing them off. Meanwhile the pest control guy left some sticky boards scattered around the yard. He said that the voles would stick to the sticky boards and die. I laughed at him but said to go ahead. This morning I found two corpses. I am exhilarated.  My first victory.  What difference can two dead voles make against the horde? It is a small victory but I will take it.


Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  8 Responses to “Down with varmints”

  1. I have said it once, and I say it again, we can give no quarter to vermin of any kind. When we get soft and let them run free it impacts us as humans and it has been proven time and time again that we don’t need to put up with that.

    It is good to be at the top of the food chain. I am glad you have found something to kill those little suckers.

    I am at war with a colony of mice that are living under my shed. Neighborhood cats used to keep them under control until I got a dog. He gets a few but they get in and chew things in the shed. I used a potload of dcon and a leaf blower to get it good and under the shed. I hope it works.

    Let me know if the deer ever get to be a problem I will be down. I may still be down with a pellet gun to practice on those voles.

  2. Even cute vermin – like deer?

  3. Deer are delicious, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hunger trumps cute for non-domesticated animals.

  4. I have something that is eating my tulip bulbs and leaving a trail on top of the ground that reminds you of a large snake passing through the grass. Could this be a vole and how do I get rid of it?

    • It could be a vole – or possible voles that are wearing a path to the bulbs. The only thing that worked was the sticky pads. The voles got stuck and died. Unfortunately there were so many that it didn’t make any difference. I did get some stuff from the hardware store that was basically fox urine. Supposedly the voles stay away from any areas that you use it on. I kept them out of my vegetables for a while that way. Sorry I don’t have a better solution. I have heard of planting bulbs in a wire cage. You may have time to do that.

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