Research has been conducted evaluating the efficacy of a new vole management tool that could potentially become available for growers. The experiments have demonstrated positive results protecting trees and vines from vole damage, however, the material used is not currently registered for such use. The researchers in charge of the project are looking for input from growers to determine the appeal of such a product were it to become available.
“We want to gauge grower interest in this product to hopefully provide additional incentive for the company to pursue registration for this product,” said Roger Baldwin, Cooperative Extension Wildlife Specialist in the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis, and one of the lead researchers on the project.
The researchers have developed a very short survey comprised of a series of questions pertaining to vole damage and what kind of priority a new vole management tool would be for growers. “The survey is a very short survey, done so purposefully so that it wouldn’t overly burden anyone who’s interested in taking it. In fact, it probably will take all of maybe two minutes,” Baldwin noted.
The experiments were conducted using the chemical repellent anthraquinone on citrus trees. Trunk application of anthraquinone resulted in more than a 90 percent reduction in girdling damage. “When we tested it, it was highly repellent and not only that, but it lasted for the entire duration of the project, which was up to about six weeks,” said Baldwin.
Voles are small rodents that are a little larger than a house mouse, but smaller than rats and gophers. Effective management techniques have typically consisted of vegetation removal, the use of trunk protectors, and rodenticide application. Vole damage seems to appear in cycles due to the cyclical nature of vole populations. “For several years vole damage may be lower throughout the state and then in one year the damage can really kind of peak,” Baldwin said.
Listen to Baldwin’s interview below.