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Animal digging my lawn

Q: What animal is doing this?

A: During the spring and fall months it is common for raccoons and skunks to dig up people’s lawns to forage for grubs. Grubs are cyclical and during the above months they are near the surface eating the grass roots, which will damage your lawn. The skunks and raccoons are actually helping your lawn by getting rid of the grubs, or at the very least alerting you to the problem.

Q: But I have never had this problem before.

A: This may be the first year you have had grubs even though you have lived on the same property for many years. Or perhaps you have grubs but your neighbors do not. Some years seem to be worse than others depending on the weather conditions.

Q: How can I solve the grub problem?

A: Although there are many chemicals on the market that target and kill grubs, people are becoming much more hesitant about using them for they fear the potential harmful effects on pets, children and the environment. Visit the City of Ottawa's web site at http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/healthy_lawns/lawns/alternatives/index_en.html for non-toxic solutions. Once the grub problem has been handled, the raccoons and skunks will stop digging up your lawn.

Q: How can I repair my lawn?

A: When skunks and raccoons dig for grubs the sod often appears to have been rolled up. You can repair your lawn by unrolling the sod, stamping it back into place, and watering it thoroughly. You might have to do this a few times over a period of a week or so, as the animal will continue to do this until the grubs have all been eaten. For the most part, lawns are very resilient and will grow back. If patches are destroyed, rake up and re-seed.

Q: Is there another animal that could be digging in my lawn?

A: Squirrels will also dig in lawns and gardens. This is typically brought on due to human behavior. Many people think they are helping squirrels by feeding them peanuts in the shell. What they are not aware of is that they are actually putting the squirrel at risk. Squirrels take the peanuts to neighboring properties and bury them there. If you think a neighbour is feeding peanuts, a good option is to talk with them and suggest they feed the squirrels large striped sunflower seeds instead, as the squirrel will eat them instead of burying them around the neighbourhood.

Q: What should I feed squirrels?

A: If you want to feed squirrels during the colder months we suggest sunflower seeds as they are forced to eat them on your property. During the summer months feeding squirrels or birds is not necessary as they should be encouraged to forage on their own.

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