Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 677–689 | Cite as

Development of an odorous repellent against common voles (Microtus arvalis) in laboratory screening and subsequent enclosure trials

  • Annika SchlötelburgEmail author
  • Sonoko Bellingrath-Kimura
  • Jens Jacob
Original Paper


Common voles (Microtus arvalis) can cause severe crop damage in European agriculture and are usually managed with rodenticides. Population dynamics and behavioral studies question rodenticide effectiveness, and an ecologically based management is needed. A useful addition to such a toolbox could be repelling odor barriers along field margins minimizing migration of voles to crops. We screened 17 plant products and mammalian scents in T-maze trials to test their repelling effects. The most repelling compounds (carrot seed oil (CS), black pepper oil (BP), spruce needle oil (SN), benzaldehyde (BA), BA and BP in double concentration (dc), combinations of BP + BA and BP + CS) were tested further in enclosures. We measured in four populations how often voles crossed enclosure compartments through channels treated with a compound or without a compound. In addition, the amount of rolled oats eaten by voles near treated and untreated channels was compared. In enclosures, voles avoided significantly channels treated with BP (79% more crossings through the control channel) and BP (dc) (42%). Voles consumed significantly more rolled oats near control channels than in the presence of BP + CS (72% more feeding at control), CS (51%), BA (dc) (36%), BP (32%) and BA + BP (28%). This demonstrated for the first time that natural compounds can reduce uptake of a highly attractive food source in common voles under semi-natural conditions. BP + CS was the most successful feeding deterrent and has the potential to be included in an ecologically based management approach.


Black pepper oil Carrot seed oil Ecologically based rodent management Microtus arvalis Odor barrier Repellent T-maze 



The authors thank L. Schreiner and G. Jakob (Detia Freyberg GmbH, Laudenbach, Germany) for producing repellents for enclosure trials. We are also thankful to R. Schlieper for technical support, D. Gabriel for statistical advice, H. Reinke for help with design of experimental setup, Sean from Scribbr for English proofread and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. This project was funded by the German Federal Office for Agriculture (No. 2812NA120) due to a resolution of the German Parliament within the federal program “Organic farming and other forms of sustainable agriculture.”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures involving animals were in accordance with Federal and State regulations (permit number of LANUV North-Rhine-Westphalia No. 84-02.04.2014.A259).

Supplementary material

10340_2018_1028_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1825 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Plant Protection in Horticulture and Forests, Vertebrate ResearchJulius Kuehn InstituteMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Division of Land Use Systems, Faculty of Life Science, Institute of Agriculture and HorticultureHumboldt-University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape ResearchMünchebergGermany

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