Ask a Question forum: Why would an animal dig up fertilizer spikes?

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Dec 9, 2015 4:15 PM CST
I've got a 10 foot spruce in my yard, nothing bothers it. Recently, I've put down evergreen fertilizer spikes. Ever since than, something has been digging only in the spots the spikes are, and digging 4 foot holes down to the roots! I've been putting the spikes back daily and covering the holes and every day the same behavior occurs. I've put down hot pepper and citrus spray that usually repels everything but it hasn't worked. The small evergreen shrub next to it has the same spikes and its left untouched. It's almost as if the tree is coming alive at night, LOL! I've went as far as to pee in a cup and sprinkle urine around the area to deter anything, we'll see if it works.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 9, 2015 4:27 PM CST
If it is happening during the day it may be squirrels; they are naturally curious and love to dig. If it's happening at night it could be skunks. Some of the fertilizer stakes have an ingredient including fish which could be very attractive to a critter. You could try hammering the stakes in farther into the ground and tacking a piece of hardware cloth over the area to prevent digging.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 9, 2015 6:06 PM CST
Well, we can never know what's in a critter's mind but it's usually hunger or curiosity, I would think. There must be some scent, or maybe something else growing in the soil where the spikes were. (I assume you didn't put more spikes out recently, since it's winter?) Are they eating the spikes or breaking them up?

You might want to try using a pelleted time-release fertilizer instead. The spikes sometimes don't distrubute fertilizer as well anyway.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
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Shadegardener
Dec 9, 2015 6:15 PM CST
Critters do like to dig in freshly disturbed earth. I usually have that problem when planting in the spring. You can try sprinkling some cayenne pepper over the spot and replenish it if it rains or snows. That usually works for me.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Dec 9, 2015 8:33 PM CST
greene said:If it is happening during the day it may be squirrels; they are naturally curious and love to dig. If it's happening at night it could be skunks. Some of the fertilizer stakes have an ingredient including fish which could be very attractive to a critter. You could try hammering the stakes in farther into the ground and tacking a piece of hardware cloth over the area to prevent digging.


We don't have skunks, but we do have raccoons. Now, why would they only go for fertilizer in this spot and not the other? I know they smell very well so why not dig all over the yard where each one was placed? Unless it's not raccoons? Can moles do this much damage?
[Last edited by keithp2012 - Dec 9, 2015 8:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Dec 9, 2015 8:34 PM CST
Shadegardener said:Critters do like to dig in freshly disturbed earth. I usually have that problem when planting in the spring. You can try sprinkling some cayenne pepper over the spot and replenish it if it rains or snows. That usually works for me.


The area is full of clay, compact and dry, and I've put that down each day, didn't help.
[Last edited by keithp2012 - Dec 9, 2015 8:34 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 9, 2015 10:00 PM CST
Moles eat bugs like lawn grubs and stuff. Wouldn't think they would have any interest in fert spikes.
Elaine

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Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
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Chillybean
Dec 10, 2015 10:19 AM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:Moles eat bugs like lawn grubs and stuff. Wouldn't think they would have any interest in fert spikes.


We trapped a mole in the basement that went after the peanut butter bait. Sad (I like moles.) Maybe they get desperate in the winter??
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 10, 2015 11:00 AM CST
Maybe voles? They feed on roots and apparently like spruce. Maybe the fertilizer spikes are getting their digging started!
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Dec 10, 2015 11:04 AM CST
I'm guess it's something in the fertilizer spikes that's attracting some animal although I'm not sure why they are singling out the ones under the spruce tree. Blood meal and bone meal are often used in fertilizer which would be attractive to raccoons, coyotes or other meat eaters. Maybe foxes in your area?
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Dec 10, 2015 11:53 AM CST
The urine trick as gross as it seems worked, nothing got dug up!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 10, 2015 1:27 PM CST
Hey, just about every male gardener I know has told me he pees in the garden - most do it regularly. It not only repels critters, it's also free water and fertilizer. I don't think it's gross at all.

Just be very careful you don't flash your neighbors or their kids especially! The idea of a cup is very considerate of you.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Dec 10, 2015 11:33 PM CST
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When my husband and I were first together I was living in a cabin that was really out in the boonies and he was living in town; must be a guy thing, but he loved going outside and peeing off my deck... I swore he was going to kill the grass, but nope, it grew pretty well out there. Bad for Mother Nature to encourage that behavior, IMO Hilarious!
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Dec 11, 2015 8:37 AM CST
I know exactly what you are talking about, weed, we live out in the woods. It must be a guy thing. Whistling

I'm guessing it was most likely a wild dog or fox, something with a good sniffer looking for food. That's why whatever it was kept digging passed the fertilizer spike, they were searching for something more tasty, like a ground mole, vole, or other ground creature. And, that's why the urine worked to deter them. Thumbs up
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Dec 11, 2015 4:26 PM CST
wildflowers said:I know exactly what you are talking about, weed, we live out in the woods. It must be a guy thing. Whistling

I'm guessing it was most likely a wild dog or fox, something with a good sniffer looking for food. That's why whatever it was kept digging passed the fertilizer spike, they were searching for something more tasty, like a ground mole, vole, or other ground creature. And, that's why the urine worked to deter them. Thumbs up

We don't have wild dogs, we do have raccoons.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Dec 11, 2015 4:51 PM CST
There is a chance it could have been a domestic animal, dog or cat running loose. All of my dogs like the smell of blood and bone meal fertilizer. One of them in particular has a very keen sense of smell and will dig up small ground animals, he finds everything! Sometimes they dig things up that I have no idea what it is they are smelling. Shrug!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Dec 11, 2015 5:12 PM CST
wildflowers said:There is a chance it could have been a domestic animal, dog or cat running loose. All of my dogs like the smell of blood and bone meal fertilizer. One of them in particular has a very keen sense of smell and will dig up small ground animals, he finds everything! Sometimes they dig things up that I have no idea what it is they are smelling. Shrug!


OMG, no kidding! Years ago I bought a box of bone meal and had it sitting on a shelf in the garage, our two dogs at the time just about went nuts trying to get to it Blinking . I never did put it on the flower garden, which is what I had intended to do... I'm pretty sure everything would have been trashed if I had!

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