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Striped Skunks Digging For Grubs

10-21-15 striped skunk 221Congratulations to the many of you who knew that the swirls/holes that are present in forest floors, lawns and anywhere there are grubs are the work of a Striped Skunk. The swirls (or “twizzles,”as one reader called them) are created when the skunk is actively looking for food, and probes the ground with its nose. If and when it smells a protein-rich earthworm or grub (larval insect) in the ground, it digs a hole in order to retrieve it. These cone-shaped holes are dug at night, when skunks are active, and often appear after a heavy rain. This is because grubs move closer to the surface of the ground when the ground is wet, making it possible for a skunk to smell them. When the soil dries, the grubs move back down into deeper soil and skunks will no longer be able to smell them — thus, no more holes will be dug. Because many animals are eating voraciously in order to put on fat for the winter, signs of digging activity are frequently seen in the fall.

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10 responses

  1. Sue

    Yay I got one right! Mostly from the resident skunk’s activity here in our yard! Sue Wetmore

    Sent from my iPod


    October 21, 2015 at 7:27 am

  2. Michelle

    Cool. Not sure all holes are from them, but interesting.

    Sent from my iPhone


    October 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

  3. Bill On The Hill...

    As is most always the case, I got it wrong again!
    I have better than a dozen files on a skunk doing this very thing around my yard & fields & what I see are small excavation holes straight down into the grass all over the place about 2 months back now…
    The tufted pine needles definitely fooled me, however the majority of your followers were spot on with their guesses…
    I am consistent though, consistently wrong!
    BF… WGF Studio53

    October 21, 2015 at 8:49 am

    • Your guesses are great, Bill. Seeing a photograph is nowhere near as informative as seeing the real thing!

      October 21, 2015 at 10:00 am

  4. Chris

    I always laugh on those mornings when I look out and see that parts of my yard seem to have been attacked by a rototiller! Skunks are something else!

    October 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

  5. Finally! – I’ve wondered about those twizzles for years and no one could tell me what they were. Thank you. Is it known how they always have a stirred-in-one-direction appearance? Does the skunk stick his/her nose into the ground and rotate its body 360 degrees using the nose as a pivot point?

    October 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

  6. Kate Cone

    I have heard that skunks also dig for wasps and/or bees. Is this true?

    October 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    • Absolutely, they dig up yellow jacket nests left and right, and they are the bane of beekeepers – they scratch on the outside of the hive, and when the bees come out to investigate, the skunk snaps them up!

      October 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm

  7. A Dartmouth professor called me once, said he had a nest of ground hornets in his lawn and couldn’t mow it. Didn’t want to use pesticide. Told him to put a little garbage around the hole as soon as it got dark.

    Called back the next morning. The garbage was gone, and there was a neat hole where the hornets had been.

    October 21, 2015 at 8:03 pm

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