There is an animal or pest that’s cutting my plants and bulbs from under the ground. Can you tell me what it might be and what I can use to get rid of them?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Christine: It sounds like you might be dealing with voles, not to be confused with moles, which feed on insect and earthworms. There are a couple different kinds of voles, but the pine vole is usually the culprit of underground damage. Of course, I cannot say for sure but from what you have described these small mammals are a possibility, especially if you are pulling up plants and the roots have been eaten or if the bark has actual teeth marks. These critters 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. These rodents do not venture very far so it would be feasible to trap them depending on the space you are dealing with. Identifying the culprit is the first step in solving the problem. The New Hampshire Extension Service has a publication available to home gardeners on voles you can read it at: extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000875_Rep921.pdf