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If you have seen magpies digging up your lawn, you may wonder what they are looking for. This article examines why magpies are so destructive and how to stop them from destroying your grass.

Magpies feed on grubs and insects in your lawn. The most effective method to stop magpies from digging up your lawn is to reduce the number of grubs. Beneficial nematodes will kill cockchafer larvae, ants, fleas, moths, beetles, flies, weevils, and other pests that magpies feed on.

Magpies can be pests when they invade your lawn. This guide will give you tips on how to get rid of them and keep your lawn safe.

How to stop magpies digging up your lawn infographic (800 × 2000 px) (1)

Why Do Magpies Dig Up My Lawn?

Magpies can often be seen digging up lawns, and they do this in search of food. Magpies will dig up your lawn, looking for insects to eat. They usually target larvae that grow in the soil and can cause destruction to large sections of your lawn when feeding.

Other animals that may also dig holes in your lawn include raccoons and squirrels. Raccoons will dig holes in your grass, searching for food, while squirrels will dig up your lawn to bury food.

Some of the most common grub symptoms in your lawn will be drying, brown patches of grass, especially two to three inches in diameter, and the appearance of brown spots on the lawn.

Your lawn is being dug up because it contains too many grubs. These are the larvae stage of the European cockchafer beetle that is 1 to 2 inches long. They serve as a rich source of proteins for magpies and many other animals. Magpies are looking for a grub infestation and will attack the developing chafer larvae.

The grubs have brown heads with white or grey bodies. Magpies are likely to destroy your lawn while trying to get to the larvae so you have to remove the grubs from the ground.

How To Stop Magpies Digging Up Your Lawn

Magpies and other birds tearing up your lawn are trying to find food. They feed on the larvae of the European chafer beetle. You must remove the food source to stop magpies from digging up your property.

Magpies can cause severe damage to your lawn as they search for food. If you are sure magpies are causing the damage, it is best to stop them. One of the best and most effective ways to keep magpies from damaging your lawn is to remove the underlying cause.

Magpies dig lawns to get to the larvae of cockchafer beetles, ants, fleas, and moths inside the lawn and soil. Reduce the number of grubs using beneficial nematodes such as Scotts GrubEx1. Once the grubs and insects have been removed, you need to take further action to ensure they will not return. 

I also use an ultrasonic animal repeller in my garden. I have had great success in keeping other animals away from my garden using these as well

Why do birds sing in the morning?  Find out here.

5 Tips For Stopping Magpies Digging Your Lawn

1. Grub Killer

Magpies are digging your lawn for food. Grubs are an easy, effective food source for them, and you must limit how many are on your lawn. The best way to reduce magpies digging up your yard is to buy a good grub killer. I have been using Scotts GrubEx1 for some time. It lasts all season with one application and is 100% organic to give you a healthy lawn.

Use Grub Killer for the best coverage in the warmer summer and fall months. Grub killer only works on young larvae, so you must use it after the new eggs have hatched. I don’t know of any nematodes that can kill larvae in colder temperatures, even in Spring.

I usually treat my lawn in August or September and have had great success keeping magpies away for the last few years.

2. Ultrasonic Bird Repeller

I use a solar-powered flashing light and ultrasonic animal repeller in my garden. They are humane, use no chemicals, and the one I use is waterproof with a range of up to 20 feet. I recommend this solar animal repeller, as it works well.

Phosooy Ultrasonic Animal Repeller, 2 Packs Waterproof Solar Animal Deterrent Device Motion Activated to Repel Cats, Dogs, Squirrel, Rats, Skunks, Raccoons & Deer
  • ADJUSTABLE SENSITIVITY & MODE: There are two knots for you to adjust the mode and sensitivity to a right condition you need.
  • 2 WAYS FOR POWER SUPPLY: Phosooy ultrasonic animal repeller is equipped with solar panel for power supply, and it also supports being charged with USB cable. When device is in charging, the red indicator will light up, and then turns to green after fully charged. Please place the device where the solar panel can get maximum exposure to sunlight.
  • HARMLESS & EFFECIENT: The effective working distance is 26-33ft with 110 degree effective range.
  • PERFECT FOR OUTDOOR USE: The device works well on rainy days with fine drizzling rain owing to its IP44 waterproof grade, and is great ideal to be mounted on the wall or inserted into ground with the spikes.

3. Motion-activated Sprinkler

You can consider using a motion-activated water sprinkler to act as a deterrent to scare them away. Magpies and other animals are afraid of the sudden movement and spray of the water. My friend used one for years, and since I purchased mine, I have had great success keeping magpies and other animals away. You can find it on Amazon here.

4. Bird Netting

Newly seeded lawns are a good food source for many types of birds. In these cases, I would recommend bird netting. The netting can be pulled tight across the lawn, so it doesn’t catch the birds. However, it will stop them from landing and preserve your lawn.

5. Decoys

Many types of decoys can be used to scare away birds. If you are using a decoy, such as an owl or other bird of prey, I recommend moving them around every couple of weeks so that the local birds don’t realize they are not real. This is also an excellent hint for scarecrows as well.

However, the best decoy I have found are kites. This peregrine falcon is scary enough that it will keep most birds away. Again, I would move it every couple of weeks, but this is an excellent deterrent if you don’t mind having a kite above your garden.

Want to know more about crows? Find out here.

Magpie digging

Which Animal Is Digging My Lawm?

The first way to determine the animals is to observe the type of holes. Moles will create tunnels and mounds, but magpies will flip over whole sections of turf. Magpies are looking for food, while moles are looking for food and shelter. Magpies can destroy your lawn quickly, especially if there are enough of them.

Many animals, such as raccoons, can cause the same problem. However, if you suspect magpies are responsible, you must do something about them. Many gardeners will have an issue with these animals unless something is done to reduce the number of grubs. 

How To Tell You Have A Grub Problem

Some of the most common symptoms of grubs in your lawn will be drying grass, especially two to three inches in diameter, and the appearance of brown spots in the yard.

The grubs have brown heads and white or grey bodies. They are always an attraction to raccoons, which can end up causing a lot of damage to your lawn.

They are likely to destroy grass around these areas, which means you have to do something to stop the raccoons from coming around your home.

Most animals that dig up your grass, including raccoons, will look for worms, insects, and grubs. If animals are digging up your property, you most likely have a grub problem.

A healthy lawn always has a certain number of grubs. A property can host up to 5 grubs in every square foot. For example, a property of 5,000 square feet can be home to up to 25,000 grubs.

Grubs are good for the garden as long as there aren’t too many. However, you can take some measures that will minimize the numbers significantly. Experts advise that killing all the grubs is very difficult, even if you use harsh chemicals. 

The best action to minimize larvae in the lawn is to use beneficial nematodes such as Scotts GrubEx1.

References And Further Reading

The Bird-Friendly Garden: How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard by Sally Roth

This book offers insights into attracting birds to your garden while maintaining a balance to avoid bird-related problems. It provides tips on deterring unwanted bird behaviors.

Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels by Bill Adler Jr.

While focused on squirrels, this book includes tactics for deterring other animals, including birds, from bird feeders and gardens.

Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard by George Adams

This book is primarily about attracting birds to your garden, but it also touches on strategies for minimizing bird-related issues.

The Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible: The A-to-Z Guide To Feeders, Seed Mixes, Projects, And Treats by Sally Roth

While it focuses on bird feeding, this book provides useful insights into managing bird behavior around your feeding areas.