Summary: Field mice are also known as voles and meadow mice. They live in many different types of habitats providing areas with heavy ground cover. Tall grasses, grass-like plants and litter all qualify as potential field mouse homes. Their runways and burrows often ruin lawns, ground cover and golf courses.
A reader asks: As the winter snow melted we discovered that our backyard grass was patchy and had been destroyed in several areas. As we examined the patches closer we found what looked like green mouse droppings in all the patches. Could this be mouse droppings and what do we need to do to get rid of them?
Dear Reader: The patchy dead spots in the grass could be snow mold which is a common turf disease. But, since you mentioned lots of green droppings, let's talk about the possibility of field mice or voles.
Field mouse damage on lawns can be seen in spring when the snow melts. The turf appears ragged and chewed where the mice have been living under the snow. Little runways can be seen on the lawn surface, sometimes with grass nests and small burrows. Lots of mouse droppings and clipped
grass can also be found. In spring, as the snow melts, the mice leave open lawn to find more protected areas. The damage to the turf is not permanent since the grass roots are not damaged.
Here are some suggestions for field mouse control. Keep vegetation along the perimeter of your property cut low. Field mice love heavy stands of grass and weeds.
You may wish to set some mouse-size snap traps near burrow hole openings. To attract the mice to the traps you can bait them with a very small amount of peanut butter, grain or a tiny piece of fresh apple. Set traps so the trigger lies across the runway, and cover the trap with grass. Check the traps each morning and evening and reset them until mice are no longer captured.
If you insist on using poison, it must be done with extreme caution. Read the label! Weather-proof baits can be stuffed into burrows, but never place the bait out in the open where children and pets might discover it. Again, use extreme caution as you are liable should unintentional poisoning occur.