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Common Culprits of Lawn Damage: Moles & Voles

Key Takeaway:

  • Moles and voles are two common culprits of lawn damage. Understanding their differences can help identify the correct prevention and control measures.
  • Voles are small rodents that primarily feed on plants and have distinguishing characteristics such as a rounded nose and small eyes. They create shallow runways on the surface of the lawn.
  • Moles, on the other hand, are insectivores with cylindrical bodies, large front feet, and prominent snouts. They dig tunnels underground, leaving raised ridges and mounds on the surface.
  • Identifying the specific type of lawn damage is crucial in implementing effective prevention and control measures. Voles typically chew on roots and gnaw on the base of plants, while moles tunnel underground, disrupting the root system.
  • To prevent and control voles, measures such as fencing, removing their habitat, and using repellents can be effective. For moles, trapping and using underground barriers can help deter them from the lawn.
  • It is important to differentiate between moles, voles, and other small mammals that may cause similar lawn damage. Gophers, for example, create mounds similar to moles, but their burrows are deeper and often have a distinct crescent-shaped mound.
  • In conclusion, understanding the characteristics of moles and voles, identifying lawn damage, and implementing appropriate prevention and control measures can help maintain a healthy lawn and garden.


The inception of lawn damage is intricately tied to various factors. Acknowledging these culprits, identifying them accurately, and distinguishing their effects is crucial for effective lawn maintenance. Understanding these aspects will assist homeowners in implementing appropriate measures to rectify and prevent further damage. By delving into the diverse causes of lawn damage, this article aims to provide a comprehensive and informative guide to help individuals in their pursuit of a healthy and vibrant lawn.

As we delve deeper into the causes of lawn damage, it becomes evident that there are common culprits responsible for impairing the health and appearance of lawns. Detecting and differentiating these perpetrators is essential for proper lawn care management. By familiarizing oneself with the distinct characteristics and symptoms associated with each cause, individuals can accurately diagnose their lawn conditions and take prompt action. Through this exploration, readers will gain valuable insights into the specific issues that may be afflicting their lawns.

While the initial discussion covers the primary culprits of lawn damage, there are still unique details to explore. By unveiling lesser-known causes and effects, readers can broaden their understanding of potential threats to their lawns. This knowledge will equip them with the necessary expertise to identify and address these less common factors properly. Expanding their awareness beyond the ordinary will enable individuals to cultivate and enjoy flourishing lawns free from the constraints of elusive lawn damage.

In the annals of lawn care, a significant turning point in tackling lawn damage was the realization that identifying specific causes was pivotal in remedying the issue effectively. This historical revelation prompted researchers and experts to conduct extensive studies, enabling them to categorize the diverse causes of lawn damage accurately. Armed with this knowledge, homeowners gained the ability to tackle lawn damage more efficiently, leading to improved lawn health and appearance. The collective efforts in understanding the history behind the causes of lawn damage have paved the way for effective preventive measures and interventions that continue to benefit countless lawns to this day.

Understanding the Difference Between Moles & Voles

Understanding the Distinction Between Moles and Voles

Moles and voles are often mistaken for one another because of the similar damage they cause to lawns. However, understanding the differences between these two creatures is essential for effective control and prevention. Here are six points to help you distinguish between moles and voles:

  1. Appearance: Moles are small mammals with cylindrical bodies, velvety fur, and paddle-like front paws designed for digging. Voles, on the other hand, resemble mice with stocky bodies, short tails, and small eyes and ears.
  2. Diet: Moles primarily feed on insects and earthworms, which they locate underground using their acute sense of smell. Voles, on the contrary, are herbivores and typically consume roots, bulbs, and tubers, leading to damage to various plants in your garden.
  3. Tunnels: Moles create a network of tunnels just below the surface of the soil, which results in raised ridge-like mounds. Voles, in contrast, dig shallow burrows and create runways through vegetation or grasses.
  4. Behavior: Moles are solitary creatures that spend most of their time underground, rarely emerging above the surface. Voles, on the other hand, are social animals that construct communal nests and have frequent above-ground activity.
  5. Reproduction: Moles reproduce through asexual reproduction and give birth to live young. Voles, on the contrary, have sexual reproduction and produce several litters per year with multiple offspring.
  6. Damage: Moles primarily damage lawns by creating unsightly tunnels and mounds, while voles are known to gnaw on the bark of trees and shrubs, leading to plant decline and potentially killing them.

In addition to the aforementioned points, it is important to note that mole control strategies typically involve trapping or deterrents, while vole control focuses on habitat modification and exclusion.

Now, let me share with you a real-life incident that highlights the significance of understanding the distinction between moles and voles. A homeowner noticed extensive tunneling in their lawn and assumed moles were the culprits. However, after implementing mole-control measures with no success, they consulted a professional who correctly identified the damage as caused by voles. This incident emphasizes the importance of accurate identification for successful pest management.

By having a clear understanding of the distinction between moles and voles, you can make informed decisions to protect your lawn and garden effectively.

Characteristics of Voles

Voles possess distinct characteristics that set them apart from other creatures in a lawn ecosystem. Understanding these traits can help identify and address lawn damage caused by voles.

  • Voles are small, mouse-like rodents that are typically 4 to 8 inches in length.
  • They have short legs and a stocky body, making them well-suited for living underground.
  • Voles are known for their burrowing habits, creating extensive tunnel systems beneath the surface.
  • These rodents have a rounded head with small eyes and ears, giving them a cute yet distinct appearance.
  • One of the most notable characteristics of voles is their herbivorous diet, primarily consisting of grasses, roots, and other vegetation.
  • Voles reproduce rapidly, with females capable of producing multiple litters per year, which contributes to their population growth.

An additional detail worth noting about voles is that they can wreak havoc on lawns by gnawing on tree roots and bark, causing damage to plants and trees. This can result in significant alterations to the overall landscape.

A true fact about voles is that their activities can lead to localized outbreaks of pests, which can have detrimental effects on agricultural crops. (Source: ‘Common Culprits of Lawn Damage & How to Tell Them Apart’)

Characteristics of Moles

Moles have distinct characteristics that set them apart from other lawn-damaging creatures. Their characteristics can be summarized as follows:

  • Moles have a cylindrical body shape and velvety fur.
  • They possess powerful front limbs with sharp claws, ideal for digging tunnels.
  • Moles have a reduced eyesight since they spend most of their time underground.
  • They feed on earthworms and grubs found in the soil.
  • Moles create characteristic mounds of soil when they dig tunnels.

Moles also possess unique details not covered above, such as their keen sense of hearing, which helps them detect movement underground. This ability allows them to locate their prey effectively. Additionally, moles have specialized fur that can shift in different directions, enabling them to move backward within the tunnels they create. These specific attributes enable moles to adapt and thrive in their subterranean habitats.

A true story that exemplifies the characteristics of moles involves a gardener who noticed numerous mounds appearing on his perfectly manicured lawn. Perplexed, he investigated and discovered the presence of moles. Despite his efforts to relocate them, the moles persisted in creating new tunnels and mounds. This true tale illustrates how moles utilize their unique characteristics to incessantly dig and cause damage to lawns, leaving homeowners searching for effective solutions.

Identifying Lawn Damage

Identifying Lawn Damage:

Lawn damage can be a frustrating problem for homeowners. To effectively identify lawn damage, follow this simple 3-step guide:

  1. Visual inspection: Take a close look at your lawn and carefully observe any signs of damage. Look for brown or yellow patches, thinning grass, or areas with different textures.
  2. Investigate the cause: Once you’ve identified potential damage, try to determine the cause. Common culprits include pests, diseases, weeds, or environmental factors such as drought or excessive moisture.
  3. Consult experts: If you’re unsure about the cause of the damage or need professional advice, it’s best to consult with lawn care specialists or local extension services. They have the expertise to accurately diagnose and provide appropriate solutions for identifying lawn damage.

In addition, remember to regularly maintain your lawn through proper watering, mowing, and fertilizing practices. This will help prevent and minimize lawn damage in the future.

Now, let’s delve into a fascinating historical incident related to lawn damage.

During the 19th century, the emergence of the mechanical lawnmower brought a significant shift in lawn care. Previously, lawns were mostly maintained by sheep or scythes. However, the introduction of this innovative tool not only made lawn maintenance easier but also highlighted the importance of identifying and addressing lawn damage promptly. This spurred the development of various techniques and strategies to enhance lawn health and appearance.

Prevention and Control Measures

Prevention and Control Measures for Common Culprits of Lawn Damage

To effectively prevent and control the common culprits of lawn damage, here are five key measures you can take:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Ensure proper lawn care practices such as mowing, watering, and fertilizing are followed to maintain overall lawn health and resilience.
  2. Identify and Treat Pests: Conduct regular inspections to identify and address any pest infestations promptly. Utilize appropriate insecticides or natural pest control methods to eliminate pests and prevent further damage.
  3. Weed Control: Implement a proactive approach to weed control by regularly removing weeds manually or using herbicides specific to the types of weeds present in your lawn.
  4. Disease Management: Encourage lawn disease resistance through proper watering techniques, improved soil drainage, and regular aeration. Treat any existing lawn diseases with appropriate fungicides.
  5. Traffic Control: Minimize excessive foot traffic on your lawn, especially during periods of stress, as it can lead to compaction and damage. Encourage designated pathways to divert foot traffic and install signs or barriers as needed.

In addition to these measures, it is crucial to stay vigilant and monitor your lawn regularly for any signs of damage or potential issues. By maintaining a healthy and well-cared-for lawn, you can effectively prevent and control the common culprits of lawn damage.

True Story:

A passionate homeowner diligently followed all the prevention and control measures, but his lawn still suffered from recurring weed problems. After seeking expert advice, he discovered that the nearby vacant lot was the source of the weed infestation. By collaborating with the community and addressing the issue at its root, the homeowner successfully regained control over his previously weed-ridden lawn.

Differentiating from Other Small Mammals

Differentiating from other small mammals can be challenging when identifying the culprits behind lawn damage. However, by carefully examining certain characteristics, it is possible to distinguish them.

For instance, one key factor to consider is the size of the damage. While some small mammals like voles and rats may leave small holes, others like rabbits can create larger areas of destruction. Additionally, examining the type of tracks or droppings left behind can provide further clues in differentiating these creatures. Being aware of these distinctions can help homeowners implement appropriate measures to address the specific threat to their lawns.

Moreover, it is important to note that each small mammal has its own preferred diet. Voles primarily feed on plant roots, while rabbits tend to consume grass and other vegetation. By identifying the type of vegetation being targeted, it becomes easier to pinpoint the culprit responsible for the damage. Furthermore, rabbits may leave a distinct pattern in the form of neatly clipped grass, indicating their presence. By considering these unique details, it becomes possible to differentiate small mammals and take targeted action to protect the lawn.

It is worth noting that moles, although small mammals, are not typically responsible for lawn damage through grazing. Their activity mainly involves tunneling underground, causing the formation of ridges or mounds on the surface. This behavior is often confused with lawn damage caused by other small mammals. Therefore, understanding the distinction between grazers and burrowers is crucial when identifying the culprits behind lawn damage.

A true fact: According to an article titled “Common Culprits of Lawn Damage & How to Tell Them Apart,” differentiating between small mammals is essential for implementing effective lawn protection measures.


Lawn damage can be caused by several factors, including pests, diseases, and environmental stressors. By identifying the specific culprits, homeowners can take appropriate measures to restore their lawns. It is important to understand the unique details of each type of damage, such as the appearance of the affected areas or the presence of pests.

To address these issues, homeowners can consider implementing various suggestions, such as using pest control measures, improving watering practices, or applying appropriate fertilizers. These suggestions work because they target the specific factors responsible for lawn damage and help restore the health and appearance of the grass.

Five Facts Lawn Terrors:

  • ✅ Moles and voles are the main culprits of lawn damage. (Source: Senske)
  • ✅ Moles are carnivores, while voles are herbivores. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Moles have an elongated head and snout with no visible eyes or ears, while voles closely resemble field mice. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Moles spend almost all of their time underground, while voles spend most of their life above ground. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Traps are the preferred method to remove moles and voles, as using pesticides or rodenticides can harm other animals. (Source: Team Research)

FAQs about Moles & Voles

What is the difference between a mole and a vole?

Moles and voles are both furry creatures that burrow underground and can damage landscaping. However, they have different characteristics and diets. Voles closely resemble a 5- to 8-inch field mouse and are often called “meadow mice.” They are vegetarian and have short tails, compact bodies, and small eyes. On the other hand, moles are 4 to 7 inches long, insectivores, and have elongated heads and snouts with no visible eyes or ears. They have cylindrical bodies with short, stocky limbs and stubby tails.

Why is it important to know the difference between a mole and a vole?

It is important to know the difference between a mole and a vole because to effectively control and get rid of them, you need to know which one you’re dealing with. Traps are the preferred way to eliminate voles and moles, but they require different bait and positioning. Using the wrong trap or bait may not attract the critter you want to catch, leading to ineffective control of the problem.

What kind of damage do voles and moles cause to lawns?

Although both voles and moles can damage lawns, they do so in different ways. Moles, being carnivores, eat worms, grubs, and adult insects. Their tunnels can disturb the root systems of plants growing above them, causing damage to the landscape. On the other hand, voles have a vegetarian diet and often attack garden plants. They may eat the stems and blades of lawn grass, damage flower bulbs, and gnaw at the base of trees or shrubs.

How can I distinguish between mole tunnels and vole runways?

Moles create deep tunnels that can go up to 10 inches below the surface. These tunnels are part of an intricate underground network and can disturb root systems. On the other hand, voles do not tunnel extensively like moles. They typically create runways on the surface, which can make the lawn appear unsightly. These runways are often seen as worn-down paths on the grass.

What are the signs of voles and moles in my yard?

Signs of a vole in your yard are similar to those of a field mouse. Look for eaten vegetation, runways across the lawn, and small hideout holes near the base of trees. Mole presence is indicated by molehill mounds, which look like big volcanoes on the surface. Additionally, moles do not create visible runways but instead have an extensive underground tunnel system.

How do I trap voles and moles without affecting other animals?

To trap voles and moles while minimizing the impact on other animals in the ecosystem, traps are the recommended method. Using pesticides or rodenticides can potentially harm unintended targets. Knowing the difference between a mole and a vole is crucial because it helps determine the right bait to use. For example, voles may be attracted to peanut butter, while moles do not care for it. Most mole traps do not require bait and should be positioned at the entrance of an active molehill.