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A word from UGA Extension
The causes for mystery holes in the ground
Ingram Sam
Sam Ingram

“I have several holes in area of my yard and I think this happened overnight. What could have caused these holes?” This is not an easy question to answer, especially over the phone.

I get several calls a year about mystery holes in a landscape and the resident wants to know the culprit. It is tough to answer that question over the phone, but some description of the hole size and the area around the hole really helps with identifying the culprit.

Is soil present around the hole? If the answer is yes, we have a creature making the hole and we need to know the size of the hole to narrow down the possible creatures.

There is no soil present around the hole. With no soil excavated around, that is possibly a seep hole. A root, limb or construction burial pit in the ground has rotted and left a void. Then water finds a way to seep in the ground and soil has subsided.

The following table is from Walter Reeves on common hole dimensions and the possible creature responsible for the hole.

• 12-36 inches in diameter, thoroughly plowed three inches deep, in flowerbed: armadillo

• 6-10 inches in diameter, no mound, scattered in lawn: skunk or raccoon

• 6-10 inches in diameter, mound four inches high, near garden or barn: groundhog

• 2 inches in diameter, no mound, scattered in lawn: squirrel digging acorns

• 2 inches in diameter, small mound one inch high, under a shrub, log pile or concrete slab: chipmunk or rat

• 2 inches diameter, small mound, in lawn with markedly raised grass nearby: mole

• 1 inch diameter, no mound, next to hosta: vole

• 1 inch diameter, soil thinly scattered around hole, middle of the yard: cicada killer wasp

• 1 inch diameter, two inches high and made from balls of mud, near creek: crayfish

• One-fourth inch diameter, mound two inches high and wide, several in middle of the lawn: ground bee

• No hole, mound two inches high and wide, several in middle of the lawn: earthworm

Is every situation for every hole given on this list? No! But, it does answer some questions that will hopefully give a correct diagnosis of the problem.

For more information or questions, contact Effingham County Extension Agent Sam Ingram at 754-8040 or