So what makes the holes in the ground??

behaviorkelton(7-ish)August 4, 2007

I'm noticing a good number of holes in the clay earth (otherwise known as 'my yard').

So I understand that Voles/Moles dig tunnels, but is that it? Aren't there other critters that dig tunnels.

These are basically holes that are slightly larger around than a golf ball. There isn't one of those tell tale tunnel trails that travel along just under the turf... I've seen those before, but not in my yard. The hole seems to go more or less straight into the earth.

Some of the holes are a bit bigger, maybe even 3x bigger than those golf ball holes.

So here are the questions:

1. What are the probable species that are doing this? (I'm in Holston Hills)

2. Does the digging cause any sort of havoc ... I mean, what sort of damage can the digging do? I haven't noticed any problem with it.

3. So, in looking at the holes I can't see where the animals are putting the excess dirt. There is no mound of dirt, nor does any dirt seem to be slung anywhere. So how do they do it? Do they have the strength to simply crush the earth out of the way??

I don't recall any burrowing animal issues in Florida.. I've been in Tn for a year now.


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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)


    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 10:01PM
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it depends. pencil/pen sized....they are insects/bees. be careful, as some bees are aggressive. i've been stung.

1-2" holes are some sort of ground mouse or mole. i used mouse bait, shoved it into the hole. next day, i could see the evidence of them eating it.

no more holes.

they chomped up lots of wildflower seeds that i had cast.....fat little buggers.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 6:49AM
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    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 9:15AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

These holes sound like the ones I have out at the farm. If they are like I gather from your description, I can probably eliminate chipmunks, bees, and crawfish. Chipmunk holes are usually hidden under logs, rocks, or something else, and usually the dirt left over from their newly made holes can be seen scattered around nearby. You indicated that the holes are golf ball size, so they aren't bee nests. Crawfish holes almost always have the dirt "chimney" that you indicated was not present.

What you probably have are voles. Voles, unlike moles, dig holes like you describe. Moles "swim" through the dirt in tunnels just below the ground and leave the heaved dirt trails like you say aren't present. Voles, on the other hand, borrow into the ground and leave their holes open (again, unlike moles) like you mention.

So far as damage goes, voles are awful. Moles mostly eat grubs and ground insects. Mole tunnels can be unsightly but are generally not bad for plants. However, voles eat your plant/shrub/tree roots and your bulbs! Sorry for the bad news.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 10:41AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Another thing you can look for that would indicate the presence of voles is vole "runways". These are above ground (but often below vegetation) paths between holes. These runways are not always present and can be hard to see when present.

I think people get voles and moles mixed up because of the similarities of the common names and because both can make trails in the lawn. Mole trails are made when they dig underground at root (grub) level and raise the soil level with their tunnels. Voles travel under vegetation/grass between holes and make paths. Also, sometimes voles use mole tunnels.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 12:06PM
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Thanks. The Chipmunk holes have the scattered dirt that can be seen just outside the hole, and yes, they are usually next to an object .

So it looks like Voles are in my yard. darn. I see another thread about how to control them, so I will move over there.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 12:22PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

If that doesn't work, maybe you could adapt the Caddyshack method. See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Leisurely Family Fun in the Lawn

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 1:03PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

And in our yard the snakes going after the voles or moles tend to enlarge the holes.
It's SO hard not to bop snakeheads as they come out of the ground. Repeat as needed "snakes are our friends"/cringe/

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 6:50PM
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So what kind of snakes... here in Tenn... like voles? Rat/Corn snakes? I, for one, love snakes... maybe I could capture one and introduce it to my little friends!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 9:14PM
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utdeedee(7A-East Tennessee)

I have the same problem and saw one sitting outside of a hole one day and it was a chipmunk.

I tried the water bucket with sun flower sprinkled on it with a wooden ramp sprinkled with seeds leading up to it. The only thing I caught in a two week period was a large black bird and the snickers and smiles of my neighbors. :)

In the past two weeks I've poured 6 quarts of cheap ammonia in the holes thinking this might run them off. So far I've not seen any.

It has been recommeded to use fox urine but I'm not sure where you could buy it. Maybe Mayos?

Good luck and if you come upon a remedy that works, post it.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 9:09AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

There are many posts on Gardenweb that tell how to solve this problem. Also, there's tons of info on the web.

But, Dee, what did you think about my solution in the link above (my attempt at humor)?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 3:01PM
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I have tons of shallow holes all over my yard and it is skunks. They dig and dig looking for grubs and bugs and it looks so bad. There is no tunnel just thousands of shallow holes and dirt. They were even digging at my birdseed container with their dirty little guilty paws. Dirt all over my container from my yard dirt all over my back porch. We have two dogs and cant let them out after 8pm because of the little critters. What eats skunks? Squirrels in the day and skunks at night digging digging digging. I live in the city so we cant shoot and i dont know what to do about it. The drought fried the yard and the animals are digging it up. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank so much Bonnie in southern Tenn.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 3:02PM
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Well it certainly could be Voles. If you are not seeing the raised earth runs,it's not a Mole.
You did say golf ball sized didn't you? I was going to add Cicadas to the mix. They are coming out now and singing
The holes they come out of are a bit smaller than a gold ball hole usually. I have seen some rather large ones though, at least an inch acorss. If you hear alot of Cicadas now, they are probably your culprit

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 2:23PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

The upper limit of Cicada holes is about an inch. Usually they are in the range of 1/2" to 7/8". Also, Cicada holes have a small "chimney". Not like the crawfish holes, but made when the insects push their way up. There are also a number of other insects that make small holes. Solitary bees, June beetles, and cicada killers are examples.

But, the bottom line on it being insect holes is....if you find a cicada holes as big as a golf ball, please let me know so I can evacuate!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:43AM
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quelyn52(Great Smokies Z-6)

So if one has Voles, and I know my holes are Vole's holes, and they are undermining my Hydrangeas, how do I get rid of them ? Rat food ?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 8:56PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

There may be significant environmental problems caused by using rat poison to get rid of voles. I don't know what the best solution is, but there is this definite disadvantage of using common rat poison.

I've heard there are environmental friendly poisons that won't kill vole predators (birds of prey, cats, etc), but I'm not sure what these are. Maybe someone on here has researched this?

There is also products called blockers that are soil additives that keep the voles from tunneling around a plant planted with this stuff mixed in with the soil. This would work for a few plants, but wouldn't be feesable for a whole yard.

Then, there's the cats down at the pound that could always use a good home.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 11:00PM
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I would think that poison would be put "in" the hole and out of reach of birds.
However, I am only seeing rat poison and mole poison and not 'vole' poison at the local stores.

I don't mind the holes nearly as much as I mind the potential damage to trees and plants.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 7:55AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Kelton, these poisons don't kill the voles (or other rodents) immediately. The animals eat the poison and then travel away from their den before dying. Predator poisoning has been well documented in studies of this subject. Many environmental groups are encouraging states and the federal government to outlaw many currently available rodent poisons because of this.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 8:58AM
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Maybe black crawfish. My daughter has them in her backyard. Sometimes there are piles of mud next to the holes. I caught one a few years ago. Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 9:47PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Kathy, the pile of mud next to the hole that a crawfish makes is often called a dirt "chimney". That's what we were talking about above.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 9:37AM
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Jan_Hobbs(z6a TN, USA)

We are having trouble with armadillos digging up our yard...bad...and the campground.

Anyone know how to get rid of them...besides shooting them?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 2:07PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Wow, I didn't even know there were armadillos in Tennessee, but I see in articles on the web that they have now migrated here.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 9:52PM
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