Have you let your dog out late at night only to have him come howling back to the door saturated in skunk spray? Have you gone out to enjoy your yard only to discover huge slabs of turf peeled back by raccoons or skunks? Or, have you noticed the sudden appearance of tunnels being dug by your resident family of moles? In almost any suburban or urban setting, one or more of these things can give any lawn owner fits, and can be the cause of some valid concern.

It starts with a source of food

What attracts any type of insect-eating critter to your property is a free meal. Raccoons, skunks, moles and other rodents don’t have any concept of property lines, but they are able to find food exceptionally well, and if you’ve got it, you can expect some late-night visitors to your “midnight buffet.”

Although all of these animals eat a wide variety of food, grubs are one of their favorite meals. Because grubs stay close to the surface (just under the thatch), the larger animals like skunks and raccoons strip away your turf to get at these gray, slimy delicacies. Moles dig tunnels only partly underground as they search for their next meal of grubs. So as soon as you see any of these signs of feeding, it’s a good idea to check carefully for grubs. Chances are you’ll find some. But don’t just look in the torn up areas, pull up a little turf nearby. If you find grubs, you’ll discover the reason your lawn has been torn up.

Mole control options

Moles are considerable nuisances in well-tended lawns. Their tunnels virtually destroy the turf and create problems with mowing. There are restricted-use chemical materials that can be inserted into the mole tunnels (by a certified technician) that will poison the moles. Several trips and applications are usually required for effective control.

Another solution to getting rid of moles is to eliminate their food source with a grub control application. Since moles feed on many types of insects, this is not a guaranteed fix of the problem, but it makes good sense as a first step in getting moles to leave.

First steps first

If you have grubs, it’s a good idea to control them before the animals that eat them do significant damage to your lawn. If you remove the food source that attracted whatever critters you have in the first place, chances are good that they’ll start looking for “greener pastures” elsewhere.

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