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Tunnels in Lawn

Finding a tunnel-like runway at or just below your lawn's surface signals a lawn-damaging pest is on site. Without intervention, a single tunnel turns into a network that can spoil enjoyment of your backyard. Learning to recognize lawn tunnel signs can help you treat the pest effectively.

Moles

At up to 8 inches long, moles are the largest common pest to make visible tunnels in lawns. These pests create feeding tunnels as they seek out earthworm and insect meals. Signs of mole-related lawn tunnels include:

  • Raised tunnels pushed up from just below the surface
  • Grass stays green on and beside tunnels
  • Large, conical mounds of soil nearby
  • Tunnels leave slight depressions when pressed back in place

Voles

Also known as meadow mice, voles create trench-like runways on top of the soil. Depending on the season, they rely on snow, mulch, grass or groundcover for tunnel-like camouflage. They also feed on grass roots. Signs of vole-related lawn tunnels include:

  • Shallow, narrow trenches revealed when snow melts
  • Grass-free runways camouflaged as "tunnels" with grass, groundcover or mulch
  • Dry, drought-like yellow or brown grass beside runways
  • Soil-line bark damage to nearby trees and shrubs

Mole Crickets

At less than 2 inches long, mole crickets are one of the smallest — and most destructive — tunnel-making lawn pests. They damage lawns by tunneling and feeding heavily on grass roots and shoots. Signs of mole cricket lawn tunnels include:

  • Miniature, mole-like, raised tunnels just below the soil surface
  • Small "molehills" scattered across lawns
  • Large areas of brown, dying grass in late summer
  • Heavy rains level tunnels and tiny mounds

Photo credit: University of Georgia, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org (CC BY 3.0 US)

HOW TO FIX TUNNELS IN LAWN

Remedies for lawn tunnel damage depend on the pest involved. For moles, pressing tunnels back in place may be enough. Grass-eating vole and mole cricket damage requires more. If needed, add soil to vole trenches, then reseed or repair your lawn with quality grass seed. Extensive mole cricket damage may require overseeding or starting a new lawn.