J.B. Pritzker, Governor |

Solve a Wildlife Problem

Small Runways Through the Grass

The tell-tale sign that voles are in an area is runways of dead grass or grass that has been clipped very short. Thirteen-lined ground squirrels and chipmunks also dig small burrows similar to voles, but they do not make surface runways.

Photo: Dave Robson
Voles clip grass very short to make paths or runways so they can move quickly over the ground.
The darker areas in the lawn are pathways where voles have clipped the grass very short.

Voles build shallow, underground burrow systems with many entrances. Meadow voles and prairie voles create surface runways (small trail systems) through the grass, while woodland voles build surface runways just under the leaf litter. These runways are approximately one to two inches wide, and nearby vegetation is often clipped to the ground. The stems of vegetation are cut cleanly on a 45-degree angle. Meadow voles sometimes build their nests of grass above ground, but the other vole species build their nests below ground.

Voles should be tolerated whenever possible. If voles are causing extensive lawn damage, they may be trapped and removed. Click HERE for information about vole damage prevention and control methods.

If the path is wider than an inch or two across, a larger animal is making the paths. Rabbits often use the same paths as voles.