A beautiful day arrived in Hickville; a clear blue sky and temperatures reaching 17.2 °C (63°F). I decided to go outside and work in the gardens since it was such a nice day. While it was a nice warm day, I know that winter has not gone away just yet. It is not unusual for Hickville to see freezing temperatures into April.
The voles have been busy in my gardens; I found three dianthus, two purple sages, and a mum eaten by the voles. They had nibbled around the asters as well. The voles also attacked my ice plant, but I think there is still plenty left. I have plans for a new ice plant mini-bed, and I have a pot of them that I transplanted last year for the purpose. The mums and asters were the plants I had purchased off of the dead table last year and planted hoping to have some nice mums growing in my gardens. There are a few mums scattered in the back garden, but they are not doing that well and I hope to have some spectacular mums to rival those in my sister's garden. I dug up the remaining two mums and the two asters and placed them in pots set back in the hole from whence they came. I also dug up the clematis that Sister #4 gave me and placed it in a pot; I am glad they did not find it as I lost my last clematis to voles. Somehow the devil voles managed to miss the white dianthus that I had nursed back from the brink of death last year; it also found a temporary home in a pot.
The zinc phosphate I used last year did not seem to have any affect upon the vole population. The problem is getting the voles to eat the bait. With so many nice yummy plant roots in my gardens, the zinc phosphate pellets were probably not very attractive. Furthermore, I waited too late to start the eradication of the voles. Winter is the time to start working on eradicating the voles, and yes, I have waited a bit late in starting. However, it is still late winter and many plants have yet to start growing so the amount of food available to the voles is still low. Voles breed year round; however, the number of offspring is lower in the winter since the food supply is lower. When I noticed the vole damage I decided to use the remaining zinc phosphate. In order to make the bait more attracted, I coated the pellets with peanut butter. Hopefully the voles will eat the pellets and go to happy vole land in the sky.
Voles are rodents, and many rodents have developed a survival mechanism when it comes to foraging. These animals will nibble at a food source and wait to see if they get sick. If they get sick, they will not eat any more of the food. Therefore, a poison needs to either be strong enough so that even a small amount of the poison kills quickly, or the poison needs to be slow acting without causing the animal to get sick. The two most effect poisons for rodents, such as mice and rats and voles, is zinc phosphate, or warfarin based poisons. Zinc phosphate kills by utilising the acid in the digestive system of the rodent to generate the toxic phosphine gas. Warfarin works as an anticoagulant by blocking the vitamin K cycle preventing the blood from clotting. Since warfarin is a slow acting poison, death occurs after one to two weeks post ingestion of the lethal dose, the rodents don't associate getting sick with the ingestion of the poison.
The vole wars are on and I am determined to win. I have decided on a two front approach; the first is to place protective barriers around the plants they seem to feed on the most, and the second is to use rat poison pellets (warfarin) coated in peanut butter. The protective barriers serve two purposes; preventing the devil voles from reaching the plant and decreases the food sources they tend to feed on the most making it more likely they will be attracted to the poisoned bait. If I am successful, then happy vole land in the sky will be seeing lots of new arrivals.