Vole damage in a yard or garden can be extensive.
Moles can also do an incredible amount of damage to your yard and gardens as well. Actually moles and skunks will often tag team your yard.
The moles attack it from the underside and the skunks attack it from above. Digging it up like a rototiller! But that’s a different topic with a different course of action.
Today we’ll solve the vole problem once and for all!
Researching this topic lead me to a very interesting article and video by Richard Merritt from New Hampshire Hostas so I have to give Richard credit for what I am about to share with you.
Voles are actually in the mouse family and unbeknownst to many gardeners is that field mice can do an incredible amount of damage in a garden or a nursery. Mice are a huge problem for nurseries, especially in the winter months. This same process is effective at controlling field mice as well.
What is the “Magic Formula”?
The basic formula that I am going to share with you here is a combination of scented castor oil and common, everyday dish soap mixed with water which you use to thoroughly soak the soil where you have a vole or field mouse problem. It’s really, really important that you thoroughly soak the soil. Simply spraying the solution over the surface of the soil will not do the trick. You have to apply enough to really let it soak in.
What is the formula?
One teaspoon common everyday dish soap.
One teaspoon scented castor oil.
One gallon of water.
If you use one of those fancy schmancy hose end sprayers fill the jar half way up with dish soap then fill it the rest of the way with scented castor oil. Then turn the adjustment on the sprayer to the highest setting.
The castor oil has to be scented!
When is the best time to treat for voles and field mice?
These critters do most of their damage over the winter months. That’s when they are the most desperate to find additional sources of food. Therefore, it’s really important to apply this formula right before winter, before the ground freezes.
After a couple of hard frosts all of your perennials, hosta and so on will experience top die back. Rake up all of the leaves and any debris before you make the application. Y0u want the ground as clear and clean as possible.
Make the application in the late fall before the ground freezes. You want this solution to soak into the soil, at least 2″ deep and that can’t happen if the ground is frozen.
If you are having problems with voles or mice during the growing season you can apply this formula in the spring as well. You can spot treat areas by simply using a sprinkling can.
Does this really work?
Or is this another one of those “Smoke and Mirrors” gardening fairy tales?
So far I have not tested this myself, but Richard Merritt claims that they had 100% success using this and he’s not in the business of selling castor oil or dish soap, he’s in the Business of Selling and Protecting Hostas. Thousands and thousands of them! I have every reason to believe him because he decided to share his experience with this formula because it saved him thousands of dollars in damage to his plants.
Prior to this treatment the voles would destroy his Hosta gardens, his English Ivy gardens and his Sedum gardens. This formula worked so well at protecting his plants that the voles moved into his lawn and destroyed that because they didn’t feel welcome in the areas that were treated with this combination.
Will this work for moles too?
I understand that it will. I control moles in my lawn with a lawn insecticide by getting rid of the Japanese Beetle Grubs because the grubs do a great deal of damage to a lawn themselves. And if you have grubs then chances are skunks are going to figure that out and they will destroy your lawn trying to get to the Japanese Beetle Grubs.
Why does this formula work?
As close as I can figure without doing hours and hours of research this works because the voles, moles and mice don’t like the smell of the fragrance in the scented in the castor oil. I am guessing that because the castor oil is an oil, it holds the scent in the soil longer than if you were to just use something else.
Why dish soap?
It’s common knowledge that liquid dish soap will act as a wetting agent, breaking the surface tension of the soil allowing the product to seep into the ground. Growers often use dish soap when trying to wet peat moss because once dry peat moss can be difficult to wet or re-wet.
Where can I buy scented castor oil?
Good question. There are all kinds of options online and they do vary. Richard Merritt, the guy in the video, says that he buys his castor oil from Shay and Company. Just make sure what you are getting is scented. That’s really, really important, it’s not going to work if it’s not scented.
This Company, Baar Products, claims that moles are very much repulsed by their brand of Scented Castor Oil. That’s all I know, you have to choose who to buy from. Baar products is in Pennsyalvania and Shay and Company is in Oregon, so the price of shipping alone might sway your decision.
I hope you find this article helpful.