Identifying the Cause of Holes in Your Lawn

“My lawn is full of holes – it looks like I have aerated, but I have not. What could be causing these holes, and what should I do about it?” -Jan

Small holes in your lawn are almost always caused by a digging or burrowing creature, and before you can address the problem you have to identify the cause.

Holes can be caused by anything from voles to bees to worms to crawfish, and the solution depends on correctly identifying the creature. Unless you can catch the critter in the act, you’ll need to do a little detective work. Take a look at the holes and try to answer these questions:

  • What’s the size and shape of the hole?
  • Is it just a hole, or does it lead to a burrow or tunnel?
  • Is there loose dirt around the hole, or is it relatively clean?
  • Are there any small hills, mounds, or piles of soil elsewhere in the yard?
  • Are any plants (or grass) damaged, chewed, or shredded?

Once you’re armed with these answers, you’ll need to consult a reference to match your holes with the correct creature. Here are a couple of suggestions:

The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management has a great interactive search tool, with reference photos to take you through the identification process step-by-step.

The article Holes in the Lawn from Clemson University has descriptions of holes dug by various creatures.

This Wildlife Control article from Clemson University discusses various solutions for damage from wildlife.

Once you know what critter you’re dealing with, you can find a solution targeted to that creature.


  1. They could be cicada killers. They look like a huge wasp but they do not sting. They actually pull cicadas out of the trees and drag them into their holes, and lay their eggs in the dead cicada. So they are actually the good guys. But they can populate quickly. I have to kill 60-70 of them each summer to keep them from taking over the lawn.

  2. We been having this problem for 2 years now. Dirt bumpy… and the grass dyeing. 2011 terrible problem with japanese beetles… Professionals came – said it could be night crawlers.. ..said it was just because it was dry… Now this year my grass looks awful.. huge dry spots and lumps of dirt… we put the bug stuff(powder)on it. Now we have little holes all over the place.. I don’t know what is going on. I had beautiful grass.. Now it looks awful

  3. The holes are about 6 to 8 inches wide in about four feet deep. we have the sandy soil in it in the backyard with plenty of trees. we have found turtles in our backyard.

  4. They are the cicada killers! Cool ! Should we just leave them alone? We are in Joplin mo this is the second year we have seem the holes!

  5. I have 1/8 to 1/4 inch holes all over the lawn with 3/4 inch piles of dirt around them. Most of the lawn is in the shade. by the end of the summer the grass has a lot of bare spots. It looks really thined out. I’m sure it’s some kind of bug, but what, and what do I do or put on the lawn to prevent this from happening?

  6. Last year I found two holes about 7-8″ wide. Grass all scratched off surface and about 4-5″deep. Here it was a big turtle. Have the same size hole this year but have not found a turtle—yet.

  7. My neighbor has holes infront of her house. It is a brick wall about 8″ high and the area is about 1 ft wide of earth in the front of the house. The holes are about 1″ to 1 1/2″ circular no extra dirt the dirt outside the hole looks like a golf hole that you would putt into. smooth dirt outside, have not seen andy thing. I have thought about placing flour around the hole to see if we can find prints. Any suggestions. Thanks

  8. Was wondering if you can help me identify a hole dug in my grass, it looks to be about 3 inches around, very rounded opening with fine soil strewed flat in front of it. It is some kind of burrow as it looks to go in pretty deep. Could a rabbit have done this, as I have quite a few in my yard. I am concerned as I have 2 small dogs and don’t want them getting hurt confronting something in my hard. Should I fill the hole in, or put a garden hose to it and flush it? Thanks for any help you can give.

  9. I have small holes in my yard. There is no dirt piled up around the holes. I have noticed about 8 holes in the front yard and now notice them in the back. I noticed one near the foundation of my house that has over the past 3 weeks opened up into a nice size hole about 20 inches deep X 20 inches long X 8 inches wide. What could be going on?

  10. I have many holes about silver dollar size, always two holes about 12 inches apart, some clean soil around, some with grass and weeds around. Now we have all over my yard and around foundation. Have a surge in our copperhead population and getting scary. What could this be?

  11. I’m not sure of the size of the two holes, maybe 2″ wide. Mud droppings piled on top of each other surrounds one of the holes. It looks like a brick wall, but instead of bricks it’s small mud balls. Thanks for your help.

  12. So we just got all new grass in my backyard.. and we have been getting these little bugs called thrips and now we have notice holes in our yard it seems like if something eating the grass theres just an empty hole. what could that be the bugs or something else?

  13. I have exactly one inch dia. holes under my deck and in the landscaping. Could you please let me know what they are. Thanks

  14. The numerous holes in my grass are the size of golf balls. It would appear the animal pulls up the grass and doesn’t go any further.Some said it was shunk? what do you think? Don

  15. I jusy noticed the hole when i cut the lawn. Its a big hole but it doesnt look like it leads to something. The grass isnt soft around the hole but I stepped around the hole and it didnt do anything

  16. At our fence line, we notice chewing marks and wood removed at the fence bottom. Along with that about 3-4″ chunk of st.augustine grass chunk has been pulled away, to make opening to get under the fence into our yard. Our St Augustine is about 3″deep established thick grass. Digging appears to start in yard behind our fence. No signs of dirt piles or feces. Neighbor does not have any pets. We do not have any pets. We live in Autin, Tx. NorthWest area. Have small frogs in the yard at times.

  17. I have 2-3inch in diameter holes in my new planted bushes, last yer planted trees in the mulch and in a new soil in flowerpots. Some holes are about 1-2 inch deep, some of them – 3-5 inch deep. Can you please tell me what animal is doing this? And how to protect my yard. Thank you

  18. I do not have any holes just alot of small piles of dirt. They are not ants. when you touch it, it’s like powder. These piles are ruining my yard, please help.

  19. I have holes about half dollar size and about 12-24 in. between holes. Just started happened in the last mo. About 100 feet from house but going into the fields.

  20. We have lots of holes dug in our front & back yards. They are approx 1-2 inches in diameter and maybe 1-3 inches deep. No tunnels. WHAT could my culprit be?????? How do we get rid of ‘whatever’????

  21. I have 2 holes appeared in my lawn, over a matter of a week. They look very deep, and they look as though you have put a small post in, as they are only probably at most an inch in diameter. But i was even more amazed this morning to find a conker at the top of one of the holes, and when i turned it over it had been chewed! BUT the even more amazing thing is there are no horse chestnut trees near to where i live!!!! Can anyone help please.

  22. some sort of creature is digging through my house foundation and there’s piles of soil along the foundation. How do i stop this?

  23. We have several holes in our yard. Some are in a mound of landscaping and many around this mound. They are approximately 2 to 3 inches in diameter and are tunneled down into the ground. There is no dirt mounded in the yard and no visible trails. What might be causing these holes?

  24. I noticed there many holes in my back yard, much more than last year. The size is about almost 1 inch round, no lose soil around it. We are planning to plant some vegetable this spring, these holes let me worry. Any idea how to take care this matter?

  25. I have lots of dime size holes in my yard. These started appearing last year and I don’t know what can be causing them. There is no loose dirt around the holes. What can I do to get rid of the critters (or whatever they are)? I also get sinkholes in my yard that appear for no apparent reason and no pattern. One day its solid and the next it looks like a bucket of dirt was taken out from under the grass. Please help!!

  26. Hello, my father has roughly three acres and we just noticed a few holes that just appeared in the ground. They are about 6-8” in diameter and are about 2-3ft deep. In one of the holes there is standing water that seems to not be draining, there is not loose dirt around the hole so nothing is digging them and would like to know what might be causeing this to happen. My father is worried that it might some kind of “Sink Holes”, please let me know what your thoughts are.

  27. Last week I noticed a bush was leaning over and looked dry – it came out of the ground easily and what do you know…the roots had been chewed (looked like a beaver had chewed on it). Also noticed 1-2 inch holes burrowed into the ground nearby; these were near mole tunnels. Internet says they are more than likely “VOLES” eating the roots. If so, how do I eliminate them?

    Also, today I noticed small clumps of dirt/red clay on/in the lawn and noticed there were holes in them, some 1/2 inch wide. Also noticed 1/2 inch holes perfectly bored into the ground. I don’t recall seeing these before – could they be the 17 year Cicadas?

  28. i have hole in front off lawn one side only and it leads to nothing they are not deep at all there next to a tree i have . the size of the hole is about a quarter wide and deep as my index finger any ideas… have not seen any squirrels dnt think they are here

    south texas
    please help.

  29. I have a co-worker that has multiple mounds all over his yard. They are about 3/4″ around with a smooth bore in the middle. The top is covered & the hole continues into the ground. He has not found anything in any of the holes. He lives in Front Royal Virginia.

  30. I have a hole in my front yard that started out last july as just a small dip in the lawn. Today it is a hole that looks like a cavern. The grass grows until the perimeter of the hole which is about 2 to 3 ft in diameter. Then when you look in the hole it is completely hollowed out. We do see a small pipe going across it but it is not near the house water line. We also see small holes about the size of a quarter going for about 20 ft from the hole. The small holes appear about every 3 ft. No idea of what it is. Don’t think it is an animal since we have never seen mounds around the larger or smaller holes. Had issues with a trash pit in the back yard but this is in the front yard about 15 ft from the street and 50 ft from the house

  31. I have holes that are about a golf ball size round and about 1″ to 2″ deep. Clean holes with little to no dirt piles. I have discovered it was skunks digging up june bug larvae. Fat white grubs. I spread grub killer on my yard every spring and the problem goes away until the next spring.

  32. I live in France and have the same type of holes…There seems to be a large bug/wasp living in them which pops out every so often…Are they harmful or beneficial tothe lawn?

  33. I can’t seem to find a hole but it appears to me like something is tunneling under my garden.when I come out in the morning I can see tunnel shaped buldges in the sand…… I said it almost seems like something tunneling very close to surface of ground but can’t find any entrances or exits…….just step on the buldges when I see them to flatten em down…what is doing this?

  34. These tiny holes are where June bugs lay their and those eggs become grub worms. They feed on the roots in your lawn and eat the roots so the lawn dies and leaves dead round brown patches of grass. If you don’t use a grub worm killer, you will have an infestation later. Buy something to kill the eggs, don’t worry about the June bugs focus on the eggs.

  35. I have found 3 holes in my backyard next to a creek. The largest is 8″ across, clean with no mound. It is about 10″ deep and there is a tunnel. The other two holes are not as large. Your thoughts please. First I thought perhaps they are from rotting roots as it is obvious there were once large trees and I also have a dip in the yard in that same area. Now I am not so sure. Any suggestion would be helpful. What type of person should I call to look at it? Thanks, Sue

  36. please help 1/8 to 1/4 inch small mound type holes have appeared in half of the lawn this is the 2nd year in a row this has occured. small flying insects have been seen exiting holes. also lawn has bare spots. other half of lawn which is more in the shade is in perfect condition. any idea of how to treat has to be pet friendly.

    • Hi Augusta,
      The small holes in your yard could be caused by a number of insects or animals, but the most likely culprit are ground wasps, otherwise known as cicada killers.

  37. I found a Large hole / borrow underneath the roots of a large bush its about a foot wide and 9″ high with a mound of dirt in front of it could it be a raccoon? I have had much trouble with them whenever I accidently leave garbage out. I would like to be sure as no other animals have been a pest, and I will leave it alone if it is not a coon. There has been no bones, smell, or noticeable fesses .

  38. animal active at night time, makes 3-4 inches circular holes, 3-4 inches deep in the grass. he doesn’t show the grass, perhaps ante eater!! , we have all kinds of wildlife here.

  39. We have small holes In our yard. they have a tiny mounds next to them. but I wash them down ever single day and maybe 100 of them come back. I thought it was a mole but I didn’t think moles could do that many in one night or that small. their maybe 1 inch if not smaller and I only see it where we have no grass.

  40. I have an insect of some kind that makes a small mound like a ant only it is only about 1 inch in diameter and has no hole showing unless you pull the mound away. this started last year aand is really killing my yard. I tried using SEVEN and lightly watered it but to no avail.Should I try malithion. My yard looks really bad.

  41. We have a hole dug right next to our foundation about 5-6″ across and 8-9″ deep with a mound of dirt next to it could you give us some kind of idea what might have caused this

  42. I have a series of holes in my lawn. They are in a line in several different parts of the yard. They range in size from about 1-4 inches in diameter and are 1-2.5 inches deep. Some of the lines seem to be connected. No mounds of dirt around them. What coul be causing this?

  43. The holes I my landscape are some small and some med. and some are big and are endless can not be filled with water we are on the river and have run water from the river for over a hour

  44. I’ve discovered these perfectly round holes in my backyard that are about the size of a dime. They literally look like holes that are made from hollowed-out metal rods, such as the kind used for tents, badminton, etc. that have been stuck in the ground for quite awhile(to the point that there is dried-up grass tightly woven around it). The hole is so PERFECT that it gives the impression of an old pole or rod being pulled straight upward from out of the ground. What kind of insect, or animal, is that obsessive-compulsive(perfectionist) ?

  45. I want to know what kind of worm or larvae lives in a hole in the ground about the size of a soda straw and smaller you can drop a straw down the hole and yank him out. He has pinchers on his head and three forths down his body he has a hump. I have a picture.

  46. The hole is 2-2 1/2″ in my flower bed. I do have moles all over my yard which I have been fighting for 5 years. The hole I’m most interested is slick and I’m sure the creature comes out at night. It is there every summer and is getting bigger every year. I recently killed a garter snake on my patio. I would appreciate what you think it is and what I should do about it.

  47. I notices two holes the size of golf balls….and looking down in the holes I can see the strips on the backs of the snakes…..what can I do to get rid of the garter snakes that are making a home here….I have a hot dog dog and his bottom is very low and he saw three of the snakes in the back yard this summer….and now I see them burrowing for the sleep…..please help me frances

  48. I have noticed a few holes in my yard about 3 quarters of a foot. Looks like a volcano and also goes in a straight line like a tunnel, I suspect it is a termite hole, is there any solution to this or I need to buy termite spray or call pest control?

  49. Live in central florida. Many holes in back yard lawn overnight. Always foot prints on the deck the next morning. Looks like paws w/ 4 toes maybe 5, muddy. Probably going in the pool because i find mounds of dirty sand on bottom that was not there the day before. I’m clueless. Wholes are about 2 inches very little dirt mounds, hard to determine, sprinklers runs then i don’t know if the mounds are gone from the water spraying.

  50. I have about twenty to thirty holes in my lawn,what a mess. What could this be. I thought a fox or squirrel ,if so how can I get rid.

  51. Have numerous small holes in the DG dirt all over my yard. never see any animals but lots of small holes 1 inch diameter but each hole is only 1 to 2 inches deep and stops, there are many 10-30 tiny rice grain feces droppings where critter was digging, what digs a tiny shallow hole, stops, moves a few feet and does it again , and again?

  52. i bought a tree about 1 month ago and planted it in front of my mobile about a week ago i noticed a hole about 8 ft away from the tree on the other side of the side walk in my flower bed the hole is about 1 ft long by 7 inches wide and a couple ft deep that i can tell could be deeper also i put pvc’s pipe in the hole i dug for the tree and i have put the hose in the pipe to water the tree and the water on high and the water never comes out of the pipe as it does for my other tree i also have one more tree that does the same thing the pipe never fills with water it is across the yard about 30 ft from the other one any ideals !!!!!!!!!!! thank you

  53. Around this time of year,we get a bunch of mounds. Small hole under the dirt. We also have pocket gophers occasionally, but these are much smaller. Any idea what causes them and if we should do something?

  54. We have 2 holes i found pretty deep i stuck a broom stick and it was pretty deep and wet is that something to worry about its about 5 ft away from my house in the back we live in georgia and the dirt is like red clay . I filled it up with dirt i need to check again ..

  55. Just discovered this large hole burrowed underneath some bushes in the garden. Apparently its a mound where there are couple conifer trees and several shrubs. It appears whatever it is, been trying to find a burrow as there are several holes in the surrounding area but managed to dig one which appeared quite deep and about 12 inches wide with soil to the entrance. Just moved to this property and it wasn’t there. Probably happened recently as the fence fell over and smashed with the high winds so one panel is down. However the garden over looks the school play ground/ field areas so it is quite open. There is a wire mesh that separate the boundaries. Scared to poke into the hole as don’t know what’s under there or just comes in at night time?????. Should I fill the hole but if there is a live creature/ animal in there then it may come to harm. Please advise. Thanks.

  56. I have little mounds of soil all over my yard, about 1/2 inch in diameter. what could this be? someone said this may be caused from worm castings?? Please help me. Thank you

  57. We just moved in our new home eight months ago and I am noticing something is tunneling a hole under our underpinning under the house the hole is about 3 to 4 inches wide. Any suggestions one what it might be and how to get rid of it. Thanks Becky

  58. I have tiny mounds all over the yard that look like ant hills but there are no ants and my grass is dying all over the yard in patches. Can you help me?

  59. I found two holes after I mowed few days ago. There 4 inches apart the holes are 3 to 4 inches round and 1 hole is over foot deep the other half feet deep and there 2 feet away from foundation,no dirt look inside looks clean. The holes don’t look like they go anywhere. I know groundhogs are around looks to small for them thank you.

  60. I have a lot of small, approx 1/2 – 1 inch diameter holes in my yard near my back deck. They average about 2 or 3 inches apart from each each other and the farther away from my deck, the less holes there are. A small amount of dirt/mound is visible on most but not all of the holes But it’s not usually enough to obscure the hole itself. The holes are fairly deep. I can poke a stick or twig down into them about 8 to 10 inches but there is never any sign of any insect or animals when doing this. Any advise you can give would be appreciated. …thanks!

  61. I came home to a at least 8 inch diameter hole in my yard about 2 feet from the wall and near a cluster of aloe plants! Any idea what THAT could be?

    • Hi Jeff,
      The comments section under each of our over 3,000 posts isn’t intended for questions you would like answered by Today’s Homeowner, but as a place for visitors to leave comments and communicate back and forth with each other.

      If you have a home improvement question you would like answered, click on the radio tab in our navigation, then click on the “Ask Us a Question” button ( to leave your question online. Or you can call our 24-hour adio hotline at (800) 946-4420. While we can’t answer every question submitted to the radio show, we do our best to answer as many as possible on the show.

  62. Have about 30 to 40 small round holes around foundation of old farm house 1-2″ in diameter. What are your thoughts, and how do I fix the problem?

  63. We have tiny bugs eating bites out of our tree leaves. We can’t go outside cuz they’re pretty thick. Some are green, possibly aphids. Some white, and tiny black ones that stick to our leaves. Today I wake up and find little dime size holes all over our yard. Not in the grass, I don’t think, just in the dirt where the grass has died. There are no mounds next to the holes. Very clean. Maybe 1/2 in deep. What can it be? ??

  64. We have a 6 inch hole next to one of our bushes in our landscaping. It appear to be about a foot deep. The opening and hole are very clean. Just appeared several days ago. Our property backs up to common space that is very wooded. We recently had to have 6 raccoons trapped that had moved into our dead space under our built in barbeque and were using it as one of their dens. I was thinking it could be a skunk but our two dogs become very agitated whenever a skunk is anywhere nearby.

  65. Left house for 4 days, came back to a hole in lawn with a strange skeleton (for lack of better word) looking like a chicken foot or toe (2 of these outside the hole and partially covered with dirt). I have photos. Will try to add them. I live in 34293, Florida.

  66. Have two big pastures where I rotate 10 longhorns. I noticed one hole about 12″ in from the fence line. About 2 feet wide, 3-4 feet in length, and about 12″ deep. Then yesterday I noticed 2 others. They are all about 12″ inside the fence line. Was thinking maybe hogs but have never seen any hogs or evidence of them? Don’t see any dirt mounded up around them either, where whatever dug them.

  67. The shape is completely round. I don’t know the distance because it was just black down there. It must have been 1 centimeter in width and length, and there was a perfectly straight line of holes like something was going in and out of the earth. I tried to follow it, but in both directions it was a dead end. It looked like it was from an insect.

  68. I have holes close to my foundation. It looks like they may be tunneling; don’t know. Holes are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. What do I do? I thought of a skunk, but was told the holes are too small.

    Thank You 🙂

  69. I have small holes all over the front yard
    Their is great old pine tree on the hill above me on
    The side . The roots are in my yard under the grass
    But I haven’t had grass all over my yard because
    Of the roots u can see the roots above ground
    Please help me . Tell what can be done
    Thanks Ms Bey

  70. I have several, perfectly round holes, all in a row, 1-2″ across with no loose dirt around them. Being so close to my house concerns me. This happened very quickly. They weren’t there last month. What could this or these be?

  71. I live in Waco, TX. My yard is St. Augustine. After I watered, in front yard have about 15 or so 1-1.5″ wide holes in yard with small clumps of grass next to each hole that was removed. They are also in neighbors yard. Some holes are 2-4″ deep. What is possibly causing this?

  72. Small holes in yard That go Into tunnels and many buns on top of grass & grass dying eating roots killing grass in Hanover Pennsylvania please answer my question I appreciate it for your concern in this matter ???!!!!????????✝️✅?!!!

  73. I noticed a hole right next to my foundation where I have my landscaping infront of my house measuring 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide, lenght is about 7-8 inches long, about 12 inches deep. it happened also last year around August when it was very dry season and there were cracks in the soil in my property . So last yr I filled up this hole with sand and compacted it. But around late July this year when it was very dry and hot , I noticed a depression again exactly in the same area. I noticed lots of ants very close to this area for many yrs already. I dont know if there is an ant colony or other insects or caused by stagnation of water since this area always gets wet when it rain or snow or big roots from my pompom tree or shrubs near this area .Pls kindly help . Thank you so much

  74. The links you provide all suggest solutions like shooting, poison, leg traps, glue boards, etc. Why is it okay to cause suffering just to have a nice lawn? Or for any other reason? And a person could end up trapping, sickening or killing harmless wildlife or the neighbor’s dog. You should emphasize that there are better ways to resolve human-animal conflicts. People should engage humane wildlife control experts, not take matters into their own hands. Most should not be trusted with anything more than a mouse trap. And even that is risky in some hands.

  75. I recently noticed all these holes in my Eastern VA backyard in fall/winter. They are clean, no piles or anything around them, just lots of holes. . They are the size between a nickel and a quarter. They are all over a large area of my back yard. Like I said , very clean and no mounds or anything around them. . A little coincidental, they are kind of close to a large weeping cherry tree, that also had similar sized holes this summer for the first time. Any ideas what theses large holes could be from???

    • Hi Marsha,
      Some things you can only determine in person.
      We suggest contacting your local Master Gardeners association for a quick visit.
      Master gardeners make house calls and provide free advice to local people.
      Thanks for your question, and good luck!


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