There is a strange-looking pile of dirt in my lawn that I'd never noticed before, so I'm wondering if it's a sign of a pest, say a mole or some kind of burrowing insect:

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The patch of dirt is about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Because of the way it's not flat and instead composed of small particles of dirt, I'm wondering if something tried burrowing through there. This is on a slight hill, and we just had strong rains two nights ago, so I wonder too if this could simply be due to the way the water pooled up and drained off my property.


3 Answers 3


That is not going to be from a burrowing insect (unless you live on a 'Dune' like planet) but rather a burrowing mammal; e.g. mole, vole, etc.

If you allow it to stay you are going to get a lot more of these strange piles of dirt. If they have taken up residence then a lot more. Probably more than you would care to put up with.

First off, a very effective deterrent is sprinkling used cat litter around every opening (aka 'strange-looking pile of dirt') that you can find. If you do not have an in-door cat then I'm sure one of your neighbours will and they will very likely be more than happy to have you empty a litter box or two for them.

btw, on the subject of neighbours: you may want to proactively alert your neighbours about this. If you use a non-lethal eradication method like used kitty litter then the burrowing rodents are going to set up shop somewhere close by. Alerting your neighbours now will save a possibly embarrassing conversation later. <them:> Darn it! I've just got a bunch of burrowing rodents in my lawn! <you:> That's strange. I had a bunch last week but got rid of them!

My second point is in regard to the long term health of your lawn. The burrowing mammal(s) has chosen to make a home there for a reason. It is very likely that your lawn contains insect grubs or other tasty morsels that have attracted it/them in the first place. Get rid of the problem at the source that is attracting them and they won't come back in the future.

  • 1
    That's what I was afraid of. We actually have a couple of those Sweeney's sonic poles in our yard from the previous owner, but they're apparently not doing the trick (I think one may have stopped working for that matter).
    – Derek
    Apr 29, 2016 at 21:26
  • Hmm, I take back what I just said. I investigated the sonic poles in our yard and actually only found one, and it's working fine (I thought I saw a second somewhere, but I might have been imagining things!). It's located about 20-25 feet from the burrow pile I found, but it is in fact emitting a sound every 30 seconds or so.
    – Derek
    Apr 29, 2016 at 21:59
  • Sorry Derek - I really cannot comment on the use of Sweeney's sonic poles as I have no first-hand experience with them. I googled them and they sound like a fine product. Maybe see how many are recommended to cover the square footage of your lawn (be careful you are not simply sending them from the back to the front or vise versa). I can state unequivocally that used cat litter works from direct experience. The more used the better. These are likely blind or near blind creatures that rely on scent. After you empty one cat litter box and force back the nausea, you will see its effectiveness.
    – user14512
    Apr 29, 2016 at 22:13

That's from a burrowing animal pushing dirt out of a hole. Poke around and you may find a tunnel. Water isn't going to do that.

Whether or not it's a "pest" depends on what level of bother it is or is not actually causing. Aeration from tunnels can actually be beneficial.


Derek, those little mammals...probably moles are going to be few in number. They are part of the system that keeps crane fly in check and cut worms and all kinds of insect pests. At the same time they are aerating and pulling up piles of earth that all you need to do is blow it with your gas blower or rake it into the surrounding grass. I used to charge lots of money to have my guys dump piles of top soil all over a lawn and then rake it in. These guys do it for free.

Your grass looks like a nice length and very healthy. I am seeing that your mower blades need sharpening badly from the chewed up tips.

  • Interesting that you point out the grass tips - a lawn mowing service had done our lawn a week prior to that photo, not our own lawnmower. Thanks for the tips!
    – Derek
    May 1, 2016 at 4:20
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    So if you have a service here are some things you must demand from them...a written report with every 'servicing'. They have to tell you everything to include what plants were pruned and any and all chemicals used...do not put up with 'fertilizer' or 'pest management'! They have to tell you what they used, the type of fertilizer, the formulation, if any pesticides are used and their formulation (I'd ask them to tell me BEFORE they decided to use any pesticide) and when they do they need to put up signs. Have a monthly talk with the foreman. Makes dang sure they don't mow shorter than 3"...
    – stormy
    May 2, 2016 at 19:24

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