WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Armadillos have been expanding their range northward in recent years. This expansion has resulted in 11 confirmed armadillo sightings in southern Indiana.

The nine-banded armadillo, the species found in the U.S., has been seen in different counties on the southwest part of the state since 2003.

Counties the sightings have occurred in include Perry, Dubois, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson, Pike, Daviess, Sullivan and Parke.

The number of confirmed sightings has varied from year to year. There were three sightings in 2013.

Most of the reports were likely road kill sightings, said Brian MacGowan, Extension wildlife specialist with Purdue University’s Department of Forestry.

“I think it’s just something people are keeping an eye on,” he said.

Armadillos have been increasing their range for the past 100 years, but most likely won’t go too far north based on historical observations and temperatures, MacGowan said. The species is limited to South, Central and North America and doesn’t tolerate the cold.

Some scientists say rising temperatures and the loss of natural predators have facilitated the expansion, MacGowan said.

Because the species doesn’t hibernate and digs in the ground for insects and invertebrae, they most likely were affected by the past winter, MacGowan said. Armadillos burrow in the ground for cover and to raise young, but not for hibernation.

“When the ground is frozen, they can’t do a good job with food,” MacGowan said.

Armadillos are “habitat generalists” and don’t stay in one type of habitat, the specialist said. They are active at night and get around better by using roads.

Armadillos usually are seen roadside or evidence of digging near a road can be seen.

Given the expansion north and increase in sightings, it is likely they are here to stay, MacGowan said.

Armadillos can dig holes and uproot plants in lawns from their rooting behavior when searching for food. The burrow systems they construct for cover and raise young can be a nuisance and cause damage, MacGowan said.

It is unclear if the armadillos can thrive in Indiana or the impact they will have on other wildlife species, he said.

Dr. John Whitaker from Indiana State University has been compiling data on the armadillo sightings in Indiana.

People can report sightings by emailing John.Whitaker@indstaet.edu. The date of sighting, specific location and behavior should be included.