PPDL Picture of the Week
February 15, 2021
Mouse, vole and rabbit damage to fruit plants.
Bruce Bordelon, Professor(retired), Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Mice, voles and rabbits can be serious pests of fruit crops
such as apples, blueberries and brambles. During the winter months these
rodents feed on the bark of fruit crops, especially when there are long periods
of snow cover. This feeding damage can seriously damage or kill plants by
girdling the trunk (Figures 1, 2, and 3).
There are a number of methods to control damage from rodent
feeding. On many commercial plantings, plastic tree wraps or woven-wire cylinders
are used to prevent the animals from reaching the trunk (Figure 4 & 5.).
This is especially useful to discourage rabbit feeding. Tree shelters can also
be used, but their use is discouraged during winter as they can lead to excessive
temperature swings and trunk damage.
Several different types of repellents are available, but
their effectiveness is temporary and not foolproof. Repellent sprays are useful
during the growing season, but are less effective at deterring trunk damage
during the dormant season.
With mice and voles, it sometimes becomes necessary to
poison the rodents to reduce damage. Poison baits are applied to control the
population. The baits must be carefully dispersed to prevent accidental feeding
by birds and other animals. A bait station (Figure 6) is a very good method to
disperse baits. The baits are kept dry inside the plastic pipe, and the small
opening is only large enough for mice and voles, the target species. Be sure to
carefully read the label of any baits used and follow all label directions and
There are a number of resources available regarding wildlife
damage to plants.
See the Purdue Wildlife Conflicts Information website at http://www.wildlifehotline.info/