Raccoons are cute animals that look cuddly and can be fun to watch, but the havoc they wreak is not so cute. According to Animal Control Solutions, they weigh up to 35 pounds when they reach adulthood, carry and transmit rabies and can cause over 900 million dollars of damage in the U.S. each year. Though much of the damage occurs when raccoons get in to your home, they also tear up lawns when they dig holes in yards.
Though many creatures dig holes in yards, holes dug at night are likely from raccoons or skunks. The holes they dig are usually cone-shaped and three or four inches wide, but larger areas up to ten inches may occur. Holes appear in lawns and gardens when raccoons are foraging for grubs and other insects, and, according to Clemson University, raccoons will peel back newly laid sod while searching for food.
According to the University of California, raccoons eat plants and animals. They like all kinds of fruits, berries, nuts, acorns, corn and other grains. Animals that they feed on include eggs, frogs, fish, turtles, crayfish, snails, rabbits, muskrats and insects. In cities and suburban areas, they dig for grubs and larval insects, eat vegetables and fruit grown in backyards, root through compost piles, steal picnic and pet food left outdoors and turn over garbage cans in search of food.
Though raccoons are associated with rural, wooded areas, they thrive in urban and suburban areas as well. According to the University of California, these night creatures can live unnoticed for quite some time as they make their homes in hollow trees, outbuildings, brush piles, rock crevices, ground burrows, crawl spaces, culverts, storm drains, attics, chimneys or under decks.
Wegmans Nursery suggests controlling raccoons by ridding your lawn of the insect larvae they dig for. Microscopic roundworms called beneficial nematodes can be introduced to the soil to kill the grubs raccoons feed on. Though they will return looking for the food they formerly found, eventually they will give up. Beneficial nematodes are effective up to two years. Other solutions include screening spaces beneath outbuildings, capping chimneys, removing brush, placing tightly covered trash cans in racks, removing fallen fruit and nuts, installing an electric fence or hiring a professional wildlife control operator.