Different types of voles exhibit different signs.
Below Ground Foraging Vole Types have a network of tunnels underground and under the mulch, and they damage plants from below the ground. They are rarely seen above ground and only have a few burrow openings. Below ground foraging voles such as the pine vole like to make tunnels or runs along house foundations, stone walls, and among perennials and groundcovers. Look for their presence by locating their circular burrow entrances not more than 1" -1 ½" in size and by lifting mulch to reveal long narrow trenches or runways that are serpentine and wind around obstructions. Their tunnel system makes the soil feel soft and spongy under foot. Many times moles are blamed for this damage because voles can use mole tunnels to reach plant roots and bulbs.
Gopher signs (also called Pocket Gophers)
Mounds are formed as the gopher digs its tunnel and pushes the loose dirt to the surface. The mounds they create are usually fan shaped and clustered in an area which is characteristic evidence of their presence. Mounds of fresh soil are a sign of pocket gopher presence within a tunnel system. The hole, which is off to one side of the mound is usually plugged, keeping intruders out of burrows.
|Picture provided by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.||Picture provided by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.||Picture provided by T Bacchus of WA|
How to determine if a pocket gopher occupies a tunnel system
An easy method to determine if a pocket gopher occupies a tunnel system is to simply dig open the tunnel. If a gopher lives in the tunnel, the hole will be plugged within a day or two.
Mole mounds are sometimes mistaken for gopher mounds. Mole mounds, however, appear circular and have a plug in the middle that may or not be easily seen. Mole mounds are volcano-shaped. Unlike gophers, moles commonly burrow just beneath the surface, creating a raised ridge along their path.
Moles and voles cause different types of damage. Moles make raised burrows in your lawn, ground cover, and shrub areas and their tunneling activity raises the soil into ridges. They are searching for worms and grubs to eat - not roots. When voles make their tunnels searching for roots to eat, they do not create raised ridges.