lawn/grass being pulled up in clumps

Asked October 30, 2018, 7:45 PM EDT

We have a large lawn bordering a park. In the past several weeks, there have been sections of the yard (10' by 10') where the grass is being pulled up in clumps, some as large as 6 inch squares. We do have deer, foxes, etc in the area. Can you help with what is causing this and how to prevent it? I have been treating the area with an insecticide and a sonic stake to prevent moles, thinking it is a fox going after grubs or moles, but to no effect. Photos can be provided upon request. Thank you for any help you can offer.

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Sounds like you may be dealing with some type of wildlife such as racoons, skunks, fox, etc. They may be looking for soil insects like earthworms, grubs, etc. Take a look at our website for photos

Also, it is possible that when you spread the insecticide, the soil insects came to the surface and skunks or other wildlife came to feed.

We also do not recommend a grub control to control moles. They will feed on other soil insects like earthworms making the grub control ineffective. A grub control should only be applied if the grubs are feeding on your turfgrass roots. Vibrational devices are not effective.

Make sure you have a grub problem. Reasons include past history of grubs, if you have a sprinkler system that keeps the soil moist for egg laying, and if we have weather conditions like wet summers and lush lawns while the adult beetles are active in June. The turf can be rolled back from the soil like a rug this is usually in late summer to early fall. Look for grubs in the upper soil surface, you may need to dig with a trowel. If the grub count exceeds 6-8 per square foot, you may want to consider treating for grubs.

In general, adult egg laying begins in July and root feeding begins in August. Grub controls are applied as a preventative (time frame is mid June through August). Look for a season long grub control that contains the active ingredient Chlorantraniliprole. This product is more environmentally friendly. See our publication on japanese beetles for more information

Now all you can do is look for grubs. If you continue to have problems, you can put down a grub control as mentioned above, next season. You will have to do some reseeding in the spring.

Thank you for this very helpful information. Your points are well made, and I agree it is some type of animal eating bugs, worms or grubs.
I suspect with a large amount of rain this year and this affected area is on the north side of our house, which would keep it somewhat shaded with the ground not getting a chance to dry out.
What can I do now/today to stop the animal/s from destroying more of my grass and yard?
Thank you for your advise

Here is our publication on Nuisance Wildlife, which includes the species mentioned:

We don't think there is anything you can do right now but read through that publication, which includes a toll-free wildlife hotline number run by the Department of Natural Resources who may have more information for you.