An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Signs of Striped Skunks

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If you are finding small, conical pits in your lawn, you probably have a striped skunk to thank for reducing your grub population.  During the spring and summer, invertebrates make up a large percentage of this nocturnal omnivore’s diet.  With the help of their well-developed sense of smell and their long nails (which make them excellent diggers), they locate, gain access to and consume subterranean insect larvae with relative ease.   Another sign of skunk activity, in addition to lawn divots, are the excavated ground nests of yellowjackets.  If they’ve met with success, skunks will often leave sections of empty, paper cells scattered about the nest site.  Apparently, even though yellowjackets can sting multiple times, they’re not very effective at discouraging foraging skunks.  Should you be so inclined, a close examination of skunk scat will reveal bits of insect exoskeletons, as well as the bones and hair of small rodents.  The pictured scat (next to the divot) contained, in addition to insect parts, the fur of another nocturnal animal, a flying squirrel.  (Thanks to Emily and Joe Silver for photo op.)

3 responses

  1. betsy stewart

    Could have been my own yard. Grateful for them getting rid of the yellowjacket nest by the entrance to my vegetable garden.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

  2. This explains so much. Thank you!

    September 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  3. Kathy Schillemat

    So that’s what skunks do for us. Thanks for the great insights in our strong scented friends.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:39 pm

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