Racoons wreaking havoc with lawns in Belwood and east Los Gatos
Has your yard been hit yet? For the last month or two, many Belwood and nearby residents have been awakening in the morning to damaged landscaping, particularly front lawns. One home owner phoned the Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police to complain about his vandalized front yard. But this time, it’s not human caused damage.
On several social media sites, neighbors vent that they have been victims of wild pigs or boars. But that’s not it – at least not for most of us. Boars do far more destruction and they are further in the hills, though perhaps if you are in the east Los Gatos foothills around Santa Rosa, or in parts of Almaden near open space that could be a risk.
Although sometimes the damage is quite extensive, involving a large percentage of one’s front lawn, the guilty parties are usually hungry racoons. Crows may be assisting too, but they don’t create problems on as large of a scale.
They are after a meal in the form of tasty lawn grubs. Grubs find their way into the soil to eat the roots of the grass, and those grubs seem to be the best eating in town for some of the local wildlife.
If that’s not enough, squirrels like to bury food in lawns, too (someone is giving out peanuts in the shell – the squirrels keep burying them in our lawn – I’ve watched them!).
The first photo is of our family’s front yard and it was taken in early September. The second one is of our next door neighbor’s place, and it was taken about a week ago.
Most of the time, the racoons creep out in the middle of the night, but not always. A couple of days ago, our hungry hunters came back between about 6pm and9pm. It must have only barely been dark!
So what can you do about it?
In my real estate practice, recently I showed a home with a lawn grub problem. The home owners there laid down something like a soft plastic chicken wire atop the lawn and similar landscaping. It did seem to work in terms of keeping the critters out, but it may not do anything at all for the grubs which are the Siren call to them.
One grub solution is beneficial nematodes. These are a type of roundworm used to kill the grubs without using pesticides. This approach may work for some but I’m reading comments online that this has not been so successful for many who’s attempted to quash the grubs this way.
There are anti grub pesticides available as well. Sunset Magazine advises that the best thing to do is to dig into your lawn and get some of the grub worms to take to your local nursery to identify the culprit, as different treatments will be more successful with one type of grub than another.
No matter how you treat them, you do want to get rid of the grub worms, as a serious infestation will not only be unsightly, but eventually will kill the lawn.