Lawn damage caused by animals can be very problematic. Rodents and other animals are uninvited guests in your yard. The reason for their visit is simple. They are hunting for food. The problem is increasing drastically because of all the foreclosures and abandoned properties in our neighborhoods. These pesky critters take up residence in these abandoned properties. This means they are carousing our neighborhood for food, usually at night. The food of choice for these critters are lawn grubs.
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Lawn damage caused by animals is most common with moles, voles, raccoons, skunks, opossums and ground hogs.
Moles are rodents that live underground. They can be gray, black or dark brown and are between 3 and eight inches long. They can weigh up to 6 ounces. They hibernate during the winter months and wreck havoc during the summer months. Moles cause lawn damage when they are searching for their food of choice: grubs, earthworms and other insects that live in the soil. Ideal conditions for moles are well drained sandy soils that are soft. This allows them to dig and cause their destructive paths. The lawn damage caused by moles can be extensive. They create raised tunnels (ridges) and dirt mounds at the tunnel exits. While digging their tunnels, moles severe the lawn roots and raise the grass.
Voles are rodents that look like field mice, but they are much smaller (3-9 inches long). They feed on seeds and plants, but their destruction is most apparent during the spring months when the snow melts. Voles dig snake like trails (runways of dead grass). They eat the lawn roots, killing the grass plants. Moles are often blamed for damage caused by voles. Skunks, hawks, owls, foxes and weasels prey on voles.
Raccoons are smart and agile critters. They have a grayish coat. They are approximately 2 feet long and can weigh up to 20 ponds. They have a strong smelling urine and a foul smelling feces. They can be your number one nuisance. Raccoons path of destruction usually occurs at night in the fall. They will tear apart your lawn looking for grubs. There will be large chunks of turf torn apart and scattered around the yard.
Everyone knows what a skunk looks life, remember Pepe LePew? The most common skunks are black with white stripes down their back and long tails. They are between 1 ½ feet and 3 feet long. They can weigh up to 18 ponds. Skunks will dig small holes and divets in your lawn at night looking for grubs, worms and other insects. They are slow moving, docile animals. However, if they are provoked as a defensive mechanism they will spray their attacker. The smell from getting sprayed is horrible. Watch out if this happens, especially if you have dogs. I have a golden retriever (Sasha) and a siberian husky (Kota). Sasha was sprayed once and learned her lesson. Kota on the other hand is not such a quick student. Kota gets sprayed at least two times a year. What a nightmare.
Opossums are commonly found in the mid-west. An adult is the size of a house cat with shorter legs. They are two to three feet long and can weigh up to 15 pounds. They are typically white to a grayish color. The younger ones dig small holes in your yard, while adults will actually lift the turf in large areas looking for grubs and other insects.
Ground hogs also known as a woodchuck is a rodent. They are typically 1 ½ to two feet long and weigh up to 9 pounds. Ground hogs eat grass, grubs, grasshoppers and other insects. They dig tunnels with large entrances as big as a baseball. They feed during the summer and fall most often. They can remove hundreds of pounds of soil to dig their tunnels. The ground hogs digging can cause a driveway and the surrounding pavement to cave in.
Unfortunately you cannot control what happens in the foreclosed and abandoned properties near year home. The only control you have is your own property. Lawn damage caused by animals can be very costly. Your best control is prevention. If you control your grub problem, this will automatically help prevent lawn damage caused by animals. If the food of choice isn't around for these animals to eat, they won't bother visiting your home. If you do have moles, voles, skunks, raccoons or ground hogs invading your lawn, you can do one of two things. You can contact your local animal control service or you can hire a private company that specializes in eradicating these vermin.
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St. Augustine Grass - A warm season grass common in the Gulf Coast area.