What's Causing The Holes In My Lawn? | Killingsworth
  1. What's Causing The Holes In My Lawn?

FEBRUARY 01 2022 /

What's Causing The Holes In My Lawn?

The 8 Culprits That Might Be Digging Holes In Your Lawn

It’s a classic whodunit: you’ve got holes in your lawn and you need to find out who — or should we say what — is doing it and why.  By now, you’ve likely pulled out all the stops to locate the culprit. You may even have your lawn under surveillance! Yet the trouble maker has evaded your valiant efforts and you’re stuck wondering, what’s causing the holes in my lawn?  In a last ditch effort to close the case, you’ve reached out to your local expert investigators to look at the clues and solve the puzzle. Lucky for you, we’ve got everything you need to determine where the holes in your lawn are coming from and what is causing them.  In case you can’t tell, we’re going full Sherlock Holmes on this one! Keep reading to investigate the eight culprits that may be digging holes in your lawn and how to determine which suspect is to blame.  Before we get started, let’s cover some questions to ask yourself first. 

Questions to Ask to Help Determine the Cause of the Holes in Your Lawn

  1. What does the hole look like? Is it big or small? Is there dirt or any distinguishing marks around the hole?
  2. What time of year is it? Certain insects and wildlife are most active during specific seasons, which could indicate which pest you’re dealing with. 
  3. Where is the hole located? Is it in your yard or in the garden?
  4. How many holes are there?
  5. Is the hole simply a hole? Or is it a tunnel?
  6. Are there children or pets that may be digging holes in your lawn?
Once you have the answers to these preliminary questions and rule out the more obvious causes, you’re ready to identify the cause of the holes in your lawn. 

The 8 Potential Suspects Worth Investigating

Suspect #1: Earthworms

If there are a number of holes in your lawn, earthworms could be the cause. Earthworms burrow below the soil, especially when the ground is damp, and leave behind small holes approximately the size of a pencil. Outside of the holes, there will likely be soil castings left behind by the worms.  Earthworms are most active in the spring, although you may notice them throughout the year. If earthworms are the cause of the holes in your lawn, you may also notice that your lawn is uneven or bumpy. While this may be unsightly, this is actually quite beneficial to your lawn.  The holes caused by worms and other beneficial insects relieve compaction in the soil and aerate your lawn. This allows more water, nutrients and air to reach the grassroots, giving you a healthier lawn. However, not every hole-digger is benefitting your lawn, which is why it’s important to keep narrowing down the suspects. 

Suspect #2: Beetles

Every gardener’s worst nightmare: Japanese beetles. During the summer, these hungry pests burrow out of the soil to find vegetables, flowers and shrubs to snack on, leaving behind dime- or quarter-sized holes in your lawn. 

Suspect #3: Birds

While on the hunt for an early morning snack, birds may peck away at your lawn in search of worms and other tasty pests. These holes are small, and may seem a bit random. However, you can’t be too upset about these holes since birds are doing their part to maintain the pest population in your lawn. 

Suspect #4: Voles

First off, voles are not moles (which we will talk more about in a minute). Voles look similar to field mice and have light grey-brown fur with small ears and eyes. They’re a bit stockier than a mouse and have a shorter tail, which makes them easier to identify. Voles dig shallow, snake-like tunnels that are approximately two inches wide, similar to moles. However, voles eat plants, so you may notice damaged grass, plants, flowers, fruits, or vegetables near a vole hole. These tunnel-digging culprits are most active in the springtime, so keep an eye out for voles towards the beginning of the year. 

Suspect #5: Moles

Now let’s talk about moles. Moles look completely different from voles, with large bodies, darker fur, hairless noses and large feet made for digging. Like voles, moles dig tunnels throughout your lawn, however mole holes go much deeper than surface-level vole holes. Moles dig around 10 inches into the ground and leave behind volcano-like mounds outside of their entry points.   Another way moles differ from voles is their eating habits. Moles are carnivores, and use their noses to sniff out insects and other soil-dwelling pests. These furry pests are most active in the spring and fall, or after rainfall. Moles only make their appearance at nighttime, making them more difficult to spot. 

Suspect #6: Wasps

Some wasps are known for digging holes, too. Two wasps in particular, the scoliid wasp and the cicada-killer, are the most likely culprits. 
Scoliid Wasps
At the end of summer, scoliid wasps dig into the soil looking for grubs to kill. Once they have found what they’re looking for, the wasps lay their eggs on the grubs. There, the eggs hatch and mature and a new generation of scoliid wasps is ready to take to the sky. To get there though, they have to dig through the soil, leaving behind tiny holes. If the holes in your lawn are accompanied by a large amount of bright blue and black wasps, scoliid wasps are likely the ones to blame. 
Cicada-Killer Wasps
Cicada-killer wasps are difficult to miss. These bright yellow and black wasps are two inches long and are quite stout. After cicadas emerge, cicada-killers take flight in search of their prey. These wasps paralyze cicadas and bury them in the soil, leaving behind sizeable holes. Then, the wasps lay their eggs and repeat the process once again.  Pro Tip: If you think that scoliid or cicada-killer wasps are the culprits victimizing your lawn, check the holes for eggs. If you find eggs, be sure to excavate the hole. 

Suspect #7: Squirrels

If there are holes surrounding a tree or in your garden, it could be the result of squirrels. Squirrels dig holes to bury and protect their food, as well as search for snacks that they’ve previously hidden.  Related: 5 Ways Homeowners Can Keep Squirrels Away

Suspect #8: Chipmunks

Unlike squirrels, chipmunks tunnel beneath the soil in two different ways: smaller tunnels for them to hide in while foraging, and larger tunnels where they nest, store food and hibernate during the winter. You likely won’t spot a chipmunk out and about like a squirrel, however you may be able to catch one darting into its hole.  A chipmunk hole is approximately two inches in diameter, has little to no soil surrounding it and is most likely located in an area with ample ground cover.  So there’s your lineup. Which suspect could it be? Should we point the finger at burrowing insects, or tunnel-digging wildlife? To confidently determine the culprit and answer the ever-looming question of what’s causing the holes in my lawn?, you may need to enlist the help of our pest and wildlife experts.  At Killingsworth, we’ve spent the past 26 years spotting, identifying and removing pesky wildlife and pests from homes across the Carolinas. From voles and moles to beetles and birds, we can help restore your lawn to its glory while protecting it against burrowing pests.  Let us help you close the case! Contact us for more information about our pest control, wildlife control, and lawn care services. For immediate professional help, schedule an inspection today.