AUBURN, Ala. – Homeowners often find evidence of animals digging in their yards. Squirrels, chipmunks, armadillos and moles are often the culprits. An Extension specialist offers tips on controlling these animals from destroying yards.
Dr. Jim Armstrong, an Alabama Extension wildlife specialist, said the first rule of protecting a yard is identifying the animal.
“Once you know which animal is causing the problem, it will be easier to come up with a solution,” said Armstrong. “There are several ways to get rid of pests, but not every method will work for every pest.”
Armstrong said there is one animal that is usually the culprit.
“The majority of complaints about yard damage involve armadillos rooting up the yard in search of earthworms and grubs,” said Armstrong.
Damage from an armadillo is fairly distinctive. When on the hunt, the armadillo uses its long, sharp claws to break the surface of loose soil. In the process, it leaves holes averaging 3 inches wide by 5 inches deep.
Another animal troubling to landscapes is the mole. Moles dig tunnels through yards in search of food. These tunnels form ridges in the soil. Moles have an enormous appetites and may eat up to 100 percent of their body weight in a single day.
Armstrong said that moles might benefit homeowners, if not for the tunnels they dig.
“Contrary to popular belief, moles do not eat the roots and bulbs of flowers and vegetables. In fact, they may benefit these plants by feeding on grubs and worms that can damage them,” said Armstrong. “However, the tunneling activities of moles may disfigure lawns and gardens.”
There are several options for homeowners to use to control digging animals.
Putting a fence around your home is a cost effective way that can keep out pests. Mesh fencing is the best option for homeowners. If the mesh does not work, adding chicken wire around the fence will provide more deterrence. Any fencing used to exclude digging or burrowing animals should be buried at least 10 inches into the ground to discourage the animal from digging under the fence. This will make it near impossible for animals to get through.
Sometimes homeowners must use lethal traps and measures on some animals such as armadillos and moles.
“Homeowners can trap armadillos using a cage and a barrier of boards to help guide them into the mouth of the trap,” said Armstrong. “Once trapped, armadillos should be humanely euthanized. because they are an invasive species. and should not be relocated, they should be dispatched.”
Armstrong said that the best solution for controlling moles is by using lethal traps.
“There are several lethal traps that can be used to eliminate moles,” said Armstrong. “You can find many of these traps online or at a local outdoors store.”
There are also products at your local gardening store to purchase for control. They range from poisons to deterrents. This could be a beneficial solution if the yard is small and there are not domestic animals in the yard. Using this option on large yards could be expensive.
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