We normally associate lawn pests as insects, weeds or diseases but occasionally we may encounter damage from some of the four legged critters from the wild. I recently attended the Fall Garden Festival held at the Truck Crops Research Center in Crystal Springs answering lawn care questions from the help desk booth. Some of the more frequent questions were problems dealing with digging or burrowing animals such as armadillos, moles, raccoons, etc.
A manicured lawn can be severely damaged from the voracious and destructive digging caused from armadillos in a single night. These pre-historic looking nine-banded armor-shelled animals with strong claws and long snouts can rip up a lawn in only hours looking for morsels of their favorite foods of frogs, crickets, earthworms, insect larvae, ants and any other tasty invertebrates.
So how can we keep them from destroying our lawns? Even though you may hear of many home remedies or tales for their control it actually comes down to only a few choices of elimination of the food supply, exclusion, shooting or trapping. Shooting can become a very controversial subject and may not be legal in many areas. Fencing can be effective but often does not lend well to the landscape. Therefore, your choices may be narrowed only to trapping or eliminating the food supply with insecticides. Eliminating their food supply may appear to be the most logical but this too can become difficult and no one wants to remove all the beneficial frogs and earthworms from their lawn. Trapping can be effective but takes some skill and patience. Armadillos have somewhat poor eyesight and tend to follow along fences, border walls, etc. so erecting temporary wings (fencing or boards) to the entrance of a small live animal trap helps herd the critters into the trap. Baits put inside the trap such as overripe fruit (apples or bananas) or live crickets or earthworms held in a thin netting or panty- hose will help lure them into the trap.
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org