Like keeping enough water on the lawn to keep it green and looking good was not hard enough for Oklahomans, armadillos tend to add to landscape problems during the heat of the summer.
“One of the most common wildlife damage complaints during the summer months concerns armadillos,” said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist. “Armadillos usually cause problems during the late hours of the night as they dig for insects and larvae in lawns.”
The animals can be seen year-round but are most active during the warmer months. There are a few reasons for this. First, lawns are usually mowed so there is little vegetation to impede foraging.
Second, homeowners begin irrigating their lawns, which results in the soil being loose and easy to dig. And finally, the irrigation keeps larval insects close to the soil surface.
“Once armadillos find a suitable foraging spot, they normally return repeatedly,” Elmore said, adding there are some ways to control the animals from ruining your lawn.
Exclusion fences may work for small garden beds, but lawns are typically too large for this option. Also, modification of the habitat, such as removal of ground vegetation can work, but this solution is not ideal because usually the vegetation is ornamental.
“If possible, the homeowner might consider decreasing irrigation of their lawn in an attempt to interrupt the foraging cycle of the armadillo,” said Elmore, who also is an associate professor in the department of natural resource ecology and management. “This will sometimes provide relief and may work for drought tolerant lawns.”
However, trapping is the primary control method as there are no known repellants that are effective on armadillos. Soil insecticides will reduce the food source but also eliminates bugs that are beneficial, and while shooting is effective, it is limited by local ordinances within city limits.
“Fortunately, armadillos are quite easy to trap,” Elmore said.
After identifying an area that is popular amongst the armadillo population, a live catch trap should be set in the area. No bait is needed but funnels can be used to direct the animal to the trap.
The traps should be closed during the day and checked early in the morning. There is no special permit needed for individuals to control armadillos in Oklahoma.