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Waking Up to a Lawn Full of Holes | Small Holes in Lawn Overnight

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith Hardy
Senior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services....

Last Updated on November 11, 2022

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Have you just woken up and noticed the appearance of small holes in your lawn overnight? Animals, kids, or the unexplained, the sudden appearance of these holes in your lawn during the night is more common than you think.

There are few things more demoralizing than discovering inexplicable holes appearing in your freshly tended and manicured lawn after putting in hours of work. With the right information, it’s simple to identify the perpetrator.

The Causes of Small Holes in Your Lawn Overnight

The Causes of Small Holes in Lawn Overnight
Small Holes in Lawn Overnight

Nature never stops. The majority of the nutrients required by the grass in your lawn and other plants are obtained throughout the day. This is due to the fact that the sun is shining. The grass itself actually grows in the early morning hours of each day, at daybreak. The grass uses the energy it obtains during the day to fuel its development at night. The problem is that while your grass is active processing energy at night so are a number of unwanted pests.

In fact, the small holes in your lawn that seem to have come out of nowhere can most probably be attributed to insects or a small animal.

Insects are a common issue. As they develop from larvae to adults and dig to the surface of your grass, many insects will leave holes in your lawn. Animals often dig holes in your garden in search of insects to consume.

Who is Creating Small Holes in Lawn Overnight

When looking to identify the culprits that are creating the small holes in your grass size, shape, time of year, and location are important factors that will unmask the perpetrator.

Hole Shape

When trying to figure out what is creating the holes in your lawn, the form of the hole takes is crucial in determining the culprit. Some bugs and insects leave conical mounds, while others destroy the area surrounding the hole.

Hole Size

You can often rule in or out some of the probable perpetrators based on the size of the hole since a hole one foot wide is not likely to have been created by a bird that is picking out earthworms. In this case, a huge hole such as that may indicate that badgers are starting to dig a new set, but smaller holes could have been created by insects emerging from their eggs and entering the world.

Time of Year

When you see holes appearing on your lawn overnight, the time of year in which they appeared is also important in identifying the culprit. A case in point would be foxes. They often search for grubs and earthworms during the fall or early spring, they may dig holes in your lawn or garden. Grubs and earthworms are more visible at the surface of the ground when the ground is moist, making them simpler to discover when the ground is softer than usual.

Identifying the Hole-Digging Culprits

In order to figure out what is digging holes in the lawn, it is often best, to begin with, a process of elimination. The first place a gardener may have to look is if dogs or youngsters might be responsible. Although it may seem apparent, if you have a stray or roaming dog in the area, it is possible that it is a digger. Children have also been known to unexpectedly dig holes or build tunnels in the earth during play.

If you can eliminate both children and dogs from the equation you can turn your attention to other possible culprits such as insects and small wild animals. Birds, squirrels, and other animals dig in the earth in search of insects or food that has been buried earlier. Animals can also dig into the earth to lay their eggs and build their nests.

Mole Holes in Your Lawn

Mole Holes in Your Lawn - holes in yard

One of the easiest to spot. Moles are burrowers who dwell in big tunnels in the earth and dig to collect insects, worms, and grubs to consume. They are also known as burrowers. The holes dug by moles are typically huge in size and contain a pile of soil on top of the hole.

Getting Rid of Moles

Moles may cause significant harm to your grass and can be difficult to eradicate. If you want to get rid of moles, you may want to consider using mole traps, there are various different kinds that you can purchase which you can purchase from hardware stores or online.

Another option is the use of poisons. There are a few different options available, although some types are prohibited in certain states. Again, these can be purchased in many larger hardware stores or online. Finally, if you are looking for a more natural solution that is more preventative than cure, then the application of castor oil is known to be effective in keeping the animals away.

Voles Making Small Holes in Your Lawn

Voles are different from moles in size, activity, and damage that they can cause. Voles have light grey-brown hair with tiny ears and eyes, and their appearance is somewhat similar to that of field mice. In appearance, they are a little bulkier than a mouse and have a much shorter tail, which makes them simpler to distinguish from other rodents.

Voles, like moles, excavate narrow tunnels that are roughly two inches broad and around two feet long. Voles differ from moles in that they have vegetation, therefore if you are near a vole hole, you may notice damaged grass, plants, flowers, fruits, or vegetables.  Winter and early Spring are the most active season for voles, so it is best to watch out for them in the early months of the year.

Eradicating Voles

The methods for eradicating voles are much the same as they are for moles. You can either set traps for the voles or you can lay down poison. Both are usually effective at getting rid of these nuisances quickly before they can continue to further damage your lawn.

If you are looking for a more natural solution then again voles dislike the smell of castor oil and if you look to apply it on a regular basis during the early months of the year it should help prevent the problem.

Rodents Making Holes in Your Lawn

It is possible that rodents such as rats and mice could be the cause of holes in your grass as they feed on insects. Grass, fruits, and vegetables are among some of the things that they may devour. In addition, rodents will often urinate on your lawn which is not good for the grass as it contains nitrogen, which when present in large concentrations may cause the grass to die.

Despite the fact that one or two rats are unlikely to do too much damage to your lawn, an infestation will be a concern. It might be difficult to keep rodents under control, so in this particular scenario, it’s advisable to speak with a pest control professional. Another option to consider is buying a cat to help assist in keeping the rodent population under control.

Damage to Your Lawn By Squirrels and Chipmunks

Damage to Your Lawn By Squirrels and Chipmunks - holes in yard

Squirrels and chipmunks are two of the most common rodents in the United States. Squirrels and chipmunks dig holes in the ground to hide their food or when searching for prey, and they do it often. Squirrels are one of the worst offenders and they can cause considerable destruction since they tend to dig a larger hole that will cause more damage to your lawn.

The best approach if you have an issue with squirrels or chipmunks in your yard is to contact a wildlife and pest specialist.

Lawn Damage Caused by Birds

If you look closely, you may see little holes in the ground, as if something had been stabbed into it, yet there are no mounds or loose material to be found. These are most likely the result of birds searching for food.

When larger birds are on the prowl for food, the damage to your grass might be more significant. Bird’s presence is usually beneficial to your garden since they help to manage bug populations. 

Mole Crickets


Mole crickets are small, inch-to-two-inch-long insects that can cause considerable damage to your lawn if you have an infestation.

Lawns that have a substantial amount of thatch, which is defined as a dense, sponge-like mat consisting of runners and grass clippings that have not decomposed, are susceptible to these insects. These lawn conditions can be caused by improper mowing techniques, as well as excessive amounts of water or over-fertilization.

Small, brown soil mounds are one of the most obvious visible signs of an infestation caused by mole crickets. Another sign is small areas of dying grass that have left brown patches on the lawn.

Infestation of Japanese Beetles

When gardeners wake up in the morning to discover little holes in their grass, Japanese beetles are one of the most typical causes of the problem. Brown spots on lawn grass are one of the signs that Japanese beetle grubs have wreaked devastation.

According to research conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension, a female beetle lays its eggs 1 to 3 inches underground after mating,. During the course of their two-month adult lives, they may lay up to 60 eggs, which hatch into larvae and feed on them. During the autumn and winter, these larvae may be found in the earth, where they will develop and mature.

A Japanese beetle infestation is every gardener’s worst fear, and it’s easy to see why. Other creatures, such as birds, raccoons, and even larger animals like armadillos, will be drawn to your garden in search of a fast feast as a result of the larva’s presence. In order to get to the larva, they will have to burrow holes in your grass.

There are fortunately quite a few ways to get rid of Japanese beetles. Probably the most efficient is through using pesticides.

A common pesticide that contains pyrethrins is the usual choice. Adult beetles are killed when they come into contact with it but it doesn’t have a lasting deterrent effect.

If you require a lingering impact products containing chlorantraniliprole, pyrethroids, or carbaryl are good choices. Depending on the components, these alternatives can give protection for anywhere up to four weeks.

Another natural alternative is neem oil. It has been shown to be extremely effective as a repellant for adult Japanese beetles. Neem oil is a low-risk insecticide that does not damage beneficial insects.

Worms Damaging Your Lawn 

Earthworms are a typical cause of little holes in lawns that appear overnight. Worms tunnel through the soil, which might be visible, particularly if the ground is damp. Earthworms tunnel through the earth. Earthworms are essential to the health of your soil because they aerate it, which is crucial for plant growth. They also assist in the mixing of nutrients and water throughout the soil.

According to research, earthworms are most active in the spring and when soils are damp. In the area surrounding their inch-size holes, they leave a small granular mound of earth. Numerous other insects deposit their eggs in the soil, and when the larvae emerge in the spring, they leave pinprick-sized holes in the soil.

Earthworms may also cause lumps on your grass, which will give it an uneven look due to their activity. As the holes caused by earthworms are extremely tiny, it is not something you should probably be too concerned about them. It is not a good idea to attempt to get rid of earthworms since they are really useful to the health of your soil and grass.

Are Wasps Digging Holes in Your Lawn?

Wasps are actually a common cause of small holes appearing in your lawn. There are two types of wasps that dig holes in a lawn, the scoliid wasp and the cicada-killer wasp, and it is possible to distinguish which of the two different species is responsible through the type of holes left.

Scoliid wasps excavate holes in the earth to look for grubs, which they then eat. Following their discovery of an unsuspecting grub, they will suffocate it and then deposit their eggs on the grub’s back. When the baby wasps hatch, they will have a ready-made food supply to feed themselves.

Cicada-Killer Wasps create holes in lawns as they search for food. Large wasps seek cicadas and to eat them to provide food for their growing offspring. Females dig a tunnel with a diameter of half an inch to an inch and a half in which they put paralyzed cicadas. It is more common to find them in locations that are dry and barren, although they may also be found in areas where the grass is kept extremely short. Cicadas will have been dragged over the ground and left little u-shaped mounds of earth at the entrance.

Other Possible Causes of Small Holes Appearing in Your Lawn Overnight

Following the winter season, tree roots may collapse, resulting in cave-ins and holes forming. Bear in mind tree roots can extend many meters from the tree.

Hole formation may also be caused by diverted streams or other subsurface water which can cause substantial damage.

Finally, it could even be your sprinkler system! When you turn on your sprinkler system in the spring, you may discover that a pipe has burst, resulting in a puddle of water in the area and holes forming.

Conclusion: Small Holes in Lawn Overnight

As you will have realized by now there are many possible causes for the appearance of small holes in lawn overnight. To deal with the issue you have to be a little bit like a detective and find the clues and look where they take you.

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith HardySenior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services. He is now dedicated to bringing you the latest in gardening news. Read more

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