November 8, 2014

1 - It is autumn and there are several things that may be digging holes in your lawn.

Yard and Garden November 8, 2014


All of a sudden our back yard is filled with holes about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. They do not appear to have been dug by an animal as there is no dirt piled at any hole, but rather like perforations made by something nailed or shoved into the ground. They seem too small for skunk dug holes. I have attached a couple of pictures with my foot next to holes to give some idea of their size and shape.

I would be grateful for any help you can provide.

-Oliver S.



I think they are from skunks or other animals digging shallowly into the ground. I can see some scattered spoil near your foot in one of the pictures (great pictures, thanks!). The soil is not extremely evident because the grass conceals most of the loose soil. It could be skunks looking for grubs, but really not deep enough. It may be mice digging for seeds or burying seeds (acorn or pine). Perhaps squirrels burying some seeds. I think I lean toward the idea that they are skunks because they are known to make such holes; however, my confidence level is not high. Have you smelled skunks in the vicinity lately? Have you seen squirrels in your neighborhood?

As I looked in my garden, I noticed numerous holes similar to yours, except that they were in bare ground. I know there are some mice and squirrels in the neighborhood, but the most active animals in my garden now are birds. They are also potential candidates. Some eat seeds and my garden produce, but others will dig for grubs. Birds may be active in your landscape as well.

Reply from Oliver:

I have not smelled skunks nor seen mice in the area at all. We see squirrels very infrequently, perhaps twice a month. I will keep a nocturnal eye out for skunks and if any are seen I will let you know.


Another trick you may want to try is to look for footprints in areas of bare soil. In lawn areas, you can place a sheet of cardboard covered with a thin layer of flour to look for footprints of your garden visitors. Do this on a dry night with no wind, or put it in a protected area. Put some lettuce or some other attractive food material In the middle of the cardboard. If you get visitors, perhaps their footprints will help identify them.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

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