Got Holes in Your Lawn? Here’s the ‘Dillo.

SAWS Conservation Consultant Seth Patterson

Bugs and good grub. These are two tasty reasons an armored, insect-eating mammal may be digging about your yard.

Have you ever been rushing out the door on your way to work only to suddenly be stopped in your tracks by the sight of dozens of small conical holes in your yard? It’s easy to be taken by surprise when encountered with such a sight — especially when it’s happened overnight!

But what on earth so busily burrowed into your turf and beds and more importantly why? While the answer may surprise you, the culprit is surely no stranger to any self-respecting Texan. There’s likely an armadillo in your neighborhood. More specifically, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus).

These curious little critters, which happen to be the state mammal of Texas, sport extremely poor eyesight and sub-par hearing. But an armadillo’s sense of smell is quite uncanny. And the answer to why they found their way to your yard lies in their diet: bugs. ‘Dillos love insects, especially grubs, and they use their long tongues to slurp up slimy earth worms.

So how do you keep armadillos from digging up your lawn? After you’ve identified what bringing them to your yard in the first place, a good initial step is to cut back on watering so your grass dries out sufficiently between watering events. Not only will this save you water (and money), but it will also promote a healthier, more drought resistant lawn. More importantly, it reduces the soft, moist soils that bugs thrive in and armadillos love to dine on.

For areas where you want deep, soft soils, such as a vegetable garden, consider installing a simple fence with approximately 4 inches below ground.

As San Antonio grows, suburbia inches its way further and further into the country and right smack into the home of the armadillo. Just like deer, armadillos are here to stay. It’s best if we learn to coexist with — if not come to appreciate — these fascinating critters.

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