, Muskogee, OK


January 16, 2013

Identify pests to get correct remedy

— Holes in the garden, lawn, and landscape can cause curiosity or frustration, depending on the gardener’s level of concern, the damage that appears to have been done, and where the holes appear.

Diagnosis should always come before you buy an arsenal of poisons and traps, put screening under all your bulbs, or try to run car exhaust into tunnels in your lawn.

Observe the size of the hole and whether it is just a tunnel or has a mound of soil on  the surface, with or without a volcano at one side.

The lack of soil or castings around the hole could indicate a worm-seeking bird or an acorn-seeking squirrel.

Insects will work on decomposing roots for years. When they complete their work, the surface soil collapses into the space created in sort of an oblong tree root-shaped hole.

Squirrels live in trees or burrows and can damage crops, sprinkler heads, tree bark and roots. Use small traps to capture them.

Skunks live in other animals’ burrows. They eat mice, voles, moles, birds, insects, crops, birdseed, pet food and garbage. Look for freshly dug soil next to a 3- or 4-inch hole, building or woodpile, or wide holes 1 to 3 inches deep in the lawn where they are looking for grubs, voles, etc. Live traps and relocation work.

Vole holes or tunnels under leaves and grass are 1 inch in diameter with no mound. These are often found near hostas, bulbs and potatoes, where the voles eat the crown and roots. Voles, also known as meadow mice, look like little mice with short tails. Sharp gravel can help ( Stop them from chewing tree bark by keeping mulch away from trunks. To control voles, use Havahart traps, mousetraps, poison or repellents.

Six- to 10-inch holes scattered around the yard with no soil mound are probably caused by skunks or raccoons. Use a baited live-trap and relocate.

Gophers, who eat grass, roots, tubers and bulbs, leave a dirt pile shaped like a kidney.

Carroll Hunt, a Tulsa Master Gardener, advised: “Put one gopher trap at each side of the hole. Stake the traps with 3 feet of cord or wire to prevent the gopher from dragging it off. Cover the hole with a rock or plywood and leave a 1/2-inch air gap. When the gopher closes the hole, it will be trapped.”

Armadillo holes are 1 to 3 feet in diameter and 3 inches deep.

Groundhog holes are usually near the garden or barn, 6 to 10 inches around, with a 4- inch high mound of soil.

Rats and chipmunks make holes about 2 inches around with a 1-inch mound of soil under a slab or shrub.

Mole holes are 2 inches around, with a volcano of dirt, and tunnels or runways of raised grass. Moles, which have star-shaped noses and paddle-clawed feet, eat insects and earthworms. They do not eat crops or roots, but field mice use their tunnels to get into vegetable gardens. To control moles, use spring-loaded scissor traps  (www.themoleman.


Cicada-killer wasps, which are harmless and solitary, produce holes that are 1/2- to 1- inch around with thinly scattered loose soil, usually where there is no grass. Cicada-killer burrows have a U-shaped mound of soil at their entrance. Adults emerge in June and July.

Crayfish holes are 1 inch wide and 2 inches high and are made of mud balls.

Holes in the middle of the lawn, 1/4 inch around with a 2-inch mound, are made by ground bees.

Mounds 2 inches high and wide in the middle of the lawn are made by earthworms.

Nickel-size holes, brown and dying grass or rolled back turf are signs of grubs eating grass roots. Poisoning grubs can harm pets and earthworms, etc. For grub prevention and cure methods, go online to

Muskogee Garden Club will have an open conversation today about all things gardening.

If you go

WHAT: Muskogee Garden Club

WHEN: 9:30 to 11 a.m. today.

WHERE: Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Blvd.

INFO: (918) 684-6310.

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