Above Ground Foraging Voles
Above ground foraging voles such as the Meadow vole, are found mostly above ground in taller grasses, lawns and cover. They make a network of surface trails in the grass and grass clippings or thatch that are linked to underground burrows. The surface runways are 1 to 2 inches in width and are often littered with droppings and grass cuttings. They also build runways under low-growing vegetation but can make shallow tunnels in the ground. Occasionally they will eat roots, tubers and bulbs.
Below Ground Foraging Voles
Both the Pine and Oregon vole are almost entirely subterranean. They have a network of underground tunnels where they forage for food thus making them hard to detect. They damage trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennials from below the ground, consuming small roots, girdling large roots, and eating the bark from the base of small trees. Plants severed from the roots make it possible to easily pull the top of the plant out of the soil. By the time you notice weak, unhealthy plants, the damage is already extensive. Plants not killed outright may be invaded by diseases or die from water stress during periods of drought.
Voles that Forage Both Above and Below Ground
The evidence of their presence resembles both above and below ground foraging vole activity. Voles such as the Prairie vole exhibit this characteristic. Prairie voles build well-defined runways above and below the ground. They may make the soil feel soft and spongy under foot by their tunneling activity under the ground and the mulch. They also make grassy runways in the turf.