Toronto Animal Services
Is your lawn being destroyed?
In the spring and fall skunks and raccoons forage for their favourite meal, the white grub larvae. Circular indents in your lawn are the work of skunks, while raccoons tend to peel or rip up the sod. The damage caused by raccoons and skunks is the most obvious, but is only secondary to the damage caused by the grub larvae.
Grub larvae live deep in the soil until spring or fall when they rise to the surface of your lawn to eat the roots of the grass. In areas where there are more than five to 10 grubs in each 1/3 square metre (one square foot) of lawn, you will see patches of dead grass. The most common grubs are the white grubs that are the juvenile stage of the June beetle or "June bug". Two other species are the European chafer and the Japanese beetle. Damage is often the most severe in spring and fall when the moisture in the soil is very high.
Here's some information about common insects and their grubs, how to control them and how to discourage wildlife.
It is much easier to control newly hatched grubs than older ones. Turf should be kept in vigorous growing conditions at all times. Grubs do most of their damage in the fall. For information on natural lawn and garden care, see getting started on a pesticide free lawn.
- If you are using sensor lights, use one 100 watt bulb for every 15 square metres (16 square yards).
- If you use pure soap flakes, sprinkle them generously near the affected area and remember to water thoroughly. Other repellents such as Naphtha flakes, Tabasco Sauce, cayenne pepper and even dirty cat litter can be used but anything put only on the surface of the lawn may not be as effective. The animal may dig through the repellent and continue digging up your lawn.
- Try using a scarecrow.
- Stake out an area of the lawn with string placed about 30 cm (one foot) off the ground. Tie noisy objects or aluminum pie plates to the string so they hang and blow in the wind. Staking the string in a zigzag pattern may confuse the intruders. Keep this in place for spring and again in fall.
- Wind chimes or a radio tuned to a talk show can scare animals away.
- Try several methods at the same time.