Something is digging up and making mounds in our lawn during the night. What...

Asked March 28, 2016, 7:47 PM EDT

Something is digging up and making mounds in our lawn during the night. What can be done to get rid of the critters?

Lake County Ohio

1 Response

Your description of the problem as “digging up and making mounds” doesn’t sound as though you have moles tunneling under your lawn. Moles generally tunnel while looking for grubs and other insects that live under the turf. Their work leaves a long, slightly raised tunnel that is very soft when you step on it and zig zags through the yard as they search for food. There are occasional entrance/exit holes.

Skunks and Raccoons also search for grubs and earthworms but make very different marks while digging up their dinner. Both can damage a large section of lawn in a single night of digging.

Skunks generally make precise holes or small triangular divots as they dig the single insect and move to the next. The holes are shallow and not large in diameter, and there may be a large number of them.

Raccoons often shred the grass and can roll back large sections of sod to uncover earthworms and other insects.

One way to get rid of the skunks or raccoons is to deter them from entering your yard. This amounts to removing the food supply that attracts them-- your pet's food and water supply, the garbage, and sometimes the grubs in the lawn -- and/or fencing.

Grub control works best when applied before damage begins. This is a link to an Ohio State Extension response to an earlier question about grub control that might be useful. A few grubs aren’t worth treating for, but if you peel back a section of turf and find 8-10 grubs in a square foot, you might want to treat for them to help deter the nocturnal diners who are visiting your yard: http://articles.extension.org/pages/35599/what-should-i-use-to-control-white-grubs-in-my-lawn-when-do-i-apply-it

This link will take you to an article from Michigan State University on mole, skunk and raccoon problems: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/reduce_lawn_and_garden_damage_caused_by_moles_skunks_and_raccoons

Here’s another Michigan State article with excellent descriptions of the type of damage each animal does that can help with identification of your intruders as you zero in on a solution: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/whos_that_digging_in_my_yard_skunks_raccoons_or_moles

Cage trapping is an option, but you will need to learn how This excerpt from OSU Extensions’ April 9, 2015 Buckeye Yard and Garden Line weekly publication describes the legality of trapping and euthanizing nuisance wildlife on private property in Ohio: “ "Homeowners are able to live trap nuisance raccoons and skunks on their own property throughout the year without a permit. However, Ohio law states that trapped skunks and raccoons cannot be relocated off the property on which they were trapped. This law is in place to avoid the potential spread of harmful diseases. Homeowners must either euthanize the trapped animal or release it back onto their property. If assistance in removing and euthanizing trapped animals is needed, homeowners can hire a Nuisance Wild Animal Control Operator (NWACO). For a list of NWACOs by county, visit the Ohio Division of Wildlife's homepage [ www.wildohio.com ] and click on 'Species and Habitats' then 'Nuisance Wildlife' “