The vole is often confused with the mole and gopher due to habitat overlap and similar eating habits - Control methods differ for these three species; many people misidentify their target and often use improper techniques in their abatement efforts.
A vole is, to all intents and purposes, a medium to large sized mouse that lives outdoors: except it has smaller ears. The vole is, in fact, often called a meadow mouse or field mouse and like the mouse is capable of explosive population growth in areas where abundant food and shelter can be found. If vole presence is confirmed, immediate steps must be taken to remove the vole as these animals can do a great deal of damage to orchards, crops, and landscaping in a short period of time. The female vole has an average of 3 to 4 litters of 3 to 6 young a year of which the female offspring will mature in 35 to 40 days and begin to have young of her own. This high reproductive rate in combination with ideal living conditions has led to recorded vole populations of up to 500 or more voles per acre.
The most obvious vole calling card can be found at its burrow opening. The vole burrow opening will typically have all of the grass that immediately surrounds it closely cropped and there will not be any apparent soil mounding evidence. Another sign of vole activity will be the presence of surface runways (tunnels made through heavy vegetation or grasses) that are required by voles both for food foraging and cover while traveling.
Vole prevention is easily accomplished with some simple "housekeeping" habits. These preventative measures, once taken, will often remove a great portion of the vole problem leaving only a small clan of individuals to deal with.