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Old September 4, 2019   #1
jhouse
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Default Voles??

Does this look like vole damage?
I found a few small holes, (2 or 3 inches in diameter) and my two cherry tomato plants are looking, well, sick. Wilt-y in places and generally unhappy.
No damage to fruit that I can see, but the leaves look so not healthy I wondered if the neighbors sprayed some herbicide. . .then I found the holes! Plus, one tomato plant on the end of the row is unaffected, so probably not herbicide. . .
I got some MoleMax (should work on voles as well) and very liberally sprinkled the granules around the tomato plants 4 days ago (active ingredient camphor oil which should drive them away), got some good rain that night so the granules are watered in. . had a couple of good days of weather, plants look recovered 2 days ago but today looking sick again.
Does this sound like vole damage?
And, should I be watering the granules in daily?
Or, I do have a good size mouse live trap -- should I just trap them?

thanks for any info!

re the hole pics -- holes come up thru the soil and thru the (heavy) straw mulch. That's my size 8 1/2 sneaker for scale.

Jan




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Old September 4, 2019   #2
Hensaplenty
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I'm not sure if those are vole holes or not. I battled pine/woodland voles for 11+ years at my previous house. I believe you only have meadow voles in Ohio, but I'm not sure. Pine vole holes aren't quite that large, but again, I'm not as familiar with meadow voles. I do know they have above ground runs in the grass that are noticeable as well as some underground runs.
Here's what I do know about pine voles.
1. They breed year round and are active day and night.
2. They eat roots of lots of different vegetation. I could not grow green beans one year they were so numerous. They would eat the roots off the young bean plants and pull the plant half way down into their run. I also lost hosta to the little devils. The hosta would be fine one day and the next I'd walk past and see the hosta leaves flat on the ground but still in the same shape as it originally would be. I scooped up the leaves and that's all that was there....leaves....the roots had been completely eaten.
3. Their numbers will spike every 3-4 years or so. I could control their numbers but I never got rid of them.

I tried all kinds of tricks and products, and here's what worked best for me to control the spike in populations:

1. Purchase the old fashioned wooden mouse traps and load them up with peanut butter. Place them right by the hole and then cover it and hole with a large bucket. Place a rock on top of the bucket. Check trap every morning.
You will catch several this way, BUT the little boogers are smart and will catch on and stop using that hole. Keep looking for active holes and repeat the above.
2. As stated above, they LOVE peanut butter. I didn't want to use mouse/rat poison because of what it could do to a vole predator if it eats a poisoned vole, so I researched and found that small rodents cannot tolerate high doses of vitamin D. It kills them. Purchase some cheap peanut butter and capsules of powdered vitamin D. Mix a quarter cup of peanut butter with LOTS of the vitamin D. You will need to open the capsules and mix the powder in with the peanut butter, and I mean mix a lot of D in. Roll the peanut butter into small balls of about a quarter inch in diameter.
Drop several of these balls into the holes every few days.

These two methods really kept the numbers low at my place and I didn't see much damage after that. Best wishes in your battle if you do find out that they are voles. :-) Perhaps others will also have some useful suggestions.
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Old September 4, 2019   #3
jhouse
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Thanks Hensaplenty!

I've got a mousetrap (will hold numerous mice or voles) set out tonight. If this is a new invasion and there's only a few, maybe I'll get lucky and get them.
Whatever it is, just happened in the past week.
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Old September 4, 2019   #4
brownrexx
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Please be sure to cover the trap with a bucket as suggested so that you do not catch a bird or another mammal like a raccoon, by the foot.
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Old September 5, 2019   #5
jhouse
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Thanks Brownrexx it's a live trap. Placed it by an entrance/exit hole. Nothing in it this morning. Baited with peanut butter and sunflower seeds.
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Old September 7, 2019   #6
jhouse
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So, no luck with catching anything in the trap -- didn't even go for the peanut butter/bread outside the trap. ?? I had put down some Molemax (camphor oil) which is a deterrent so maybe that pushed whatever it was out of the area.
But, the one cherry tomato plant was so far gone I just cut it down -- it looked like it had beginnings of early blight happening all through it, though it could have been something else (damage? other disease?) I suppose.
I've never looked that closely at stems when I've cut my plants down, but this one seemed odd -- I may post a question about what a healthy tomato stem looks like when cut, maybe that will shed light on cause of death.
This stem was hollow in the center, light green around the outside but an inner ring of brown. Sorry I didn't get a pic!
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Old September 7, 2019   #7
zeuspaul
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If you have vole damage chances are most of the roots are gone. I know with gopher damage I can just grab the stem and yank and the plant easily comes up.
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Old September 8, 2019   #8
bower
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I don't know what the voles are like in your area, but here they are pretty small and their tunnels are often close to the surface - at least in winter or after winter I have found the evidence of their root munching. Anyway the hole by your foot looks more about the size of a rat hole I might see in my compost. A rat would not be attacking your tomato plant roots but may be planning to harvest them one by one as they get just ripe.
Either way, if your trap is not working, the solution is to dig up the area where the hole is found in such a way that any tunnels are destroyed...
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Old September 9, 2019   #9
MissS
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With that description of your stem, it sounds like it could have been either Fusarium or Verticillium Wilt.
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Old September 9, 2019   #10
jhouse
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Yikes!! Glad I pulled it. The plants on either side are okay. No fruit was bothered at all (tomatoes or jalapenos, and some were very close to the ground) so I don't know that a vole was the problem. Seems like they would have chewed on something. . .

edited to say, I look at some photos of Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt, it really didn't look like either. Not that much yellowing really, just maybe touches of what looked like early blight here and there. Almost like needing water, but the soil was actually pretty moist from rains. . .and the other plants, same moisture, didn't look like it.

Last edited by jhouse; September 9, 2019 at 08:46 PM. Reason: further explanation
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