I found a mouse-like rodent at the top of my tomato plant eating a tomato. After researching, it is most likely a vole. What is the most effective way to deter the vole from eating my tomatoes?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Vicki in Virginia: Voles are mouse-like rodents that live most of their lives underground. They do, however, leave their tunnels during the day and at night to find food or materials for their underground nests. They typically feed on roots, tubers, and grasses but have been known to eat vegetables as well. They are poor climbers, but if they can get onto a low-hanging branch they can make their way farther up into the plant to find a food source. There are several species of voles and most are only 4-5 inches long at maturity, but can do some serious damage to plant material. They usually live in loose soil as this makes it easier for them to dig their tunnels. These tunnels can be a foot deep and contain many adult and young voles. They do not venture very far so it would be feasible to trap them depending on the space you are dealing with. This would be one means of control, but another would be to cover your tomato plant with wire or plastic netting that has a mesh size of 1/4 inch or less. You will need to bury the bottom edge a few inches to prevent them from digging and getting to your tomatoes from underground tunnels. There are also repellents on the market that are labeled for voles. Bonide makes one but you can call around to your local garden centers to see what products they carry. As with any repellent liquid or granular, it will have to be re-applied according to label recommendations.