Mole crickets are a threat to all types of turfgrass, but they are especially fond of bahiagrass and bermudagrass. The harm that mole crickets bring to lawns through their tunneling activities is far worse. These pests cause problems by pushing up the soil as they tunnel through it, which causes more water to evaporate from the soil’s surface, ruins the germination rate of seeds, and harms the young plants’ roots.
Grassland and lawn grasses can also be severely damaged by mole crickets because they eat the plants’ roots. From August to October, they’re at their most destructive.
Learning to spot a mole cricket infestation and getting rid of these pests with natural and chemical means is essential if you want to protect your landscaping, lawn, and gardens from being severely damaged.
How to identify a mole cricket
The velvety, brown, and short wings of a mole cricket are telltale features, as are the long, black eyes of this insect. The animal’s large, claw-like front legs are designed for digging, while the back legs are built for jumping. Additionally, It’s possible for adult mole crickets to reach a length of 1 inch.
Mole crickets, which are related to both grasshoppers and crickets, make a distinctive chirping sound during mating and have back legs that mimic those of a grasshopper. The body and forelegs of a mole cricket are shaped similarly to a mole, hence the name.
Where do mole crickets live?
The southern mole cricket, short-winged mole cricket, and tawny mole cricket are the three most common mole cricket species that were brought to the southeastern United States from South America in the twentieth century. The short-winged mole cricket is distributed over the Caribbean, but it is most commonly seen in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. On the other hand, the southern mole cricket can be found in parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida as well as in the southwestern United States (North Carolina to Arizona).
Although the tawny mole cricket has been documented in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida, it is still most commonly found in the southern coastal plain. There are other species of mole crickets in the United States, but these are by far the most destructive. For instance, Northern mole crickets can be found all the way from the eastern United States west to Texas and South Dakota, although they are in no way a nuisance.
Do mole crickets bite?
Although mole crickets do have the ability to bite if provoked, they rarely attack humans. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about getting medical attention if you’re bitten by a mole cricket because their bites have no negative health effects whatsoever.
Mole cricket life stages
- In April or May, adult mole crickets bury their eggs about two inches underground. Bean-shaped eggs that are a drab brown color. As they drink, they grow to about a quarter of an inch in length. The egg stage might last anywhere from 10 days to 40 days.
- The nymphs emerge from the eggs white, but within a day, they’ve changed to their final black color. Nymphs look like adult mole crickets, but their wings aren’t fully formed. Nymph mole crickets burrow below the soil’s surface to access food sources including grass roots and decaying vegetation. In this form, nymphs will remain till the month of August.
- An adult mole cricket’s body is complete after the nymphal stage has ended, with completely formed wings and elongated forelegs. Male mole crickets will sing a courtship song during this time to woo potential mates. If males want females to hear their calls, they have to make it easier for them to enter their burrows by making them bigger. The males host mating sessions in their burrows.
How to identify a mole cricket infestation
The presence of mole crickets can be detected by two significant outward symptoms:
- Low, brown mounds of earth
- Your lawn has brown, dead patches.
Mole crickets are nocturnal. Therefore, you might not be able to spot the real problem during the day. Make sure mole crickets are the problem by treating a one to two square foot area of your grass with a solution made from two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid and a gallon of water. Try to get this done first thing in the morning or last thing at night. As a result, it shouldn’t take long for any mole crickets to emerge to the surface if they were around.
How to get rid of a mole cricket infestation
For successful mole cricket control, it’s important to consider both the pest’s present life cycle and the season. Controlling mole crickets is significantly simpler when the insects are young and little. Conversely, It’s more challenging to get rid of mole crickets in the spring, when they’re at their largest and wreaking the most havoc.
Identifying the areas most susceptible to damage by mole crickets in the spring will allow you to better target your summertime cleanup efforts.
Learn about some chemical and natural options for eradicating a mole cricket problem.
Natural ways to get rid of mole crickets
- Biological pest control—A study conducted by the University of Florida found that mole crickets can be effectively combated through the use of a safe and cost-effective method: biological control. Biocontrol is effective, non-toxic, and safe for humans, pets, and cattle. It requires almost minimal upkeep. Natural enemies of the mole cricket include tachinid flies, parasitoidal wasps (Larra bicolor), and parasitic nematodes (Steinernema scapterisci). Predators can be used in the spring (March–April) and fall (October–November) (September to October).
- Host plant resistance—Planting shrubs like partridge pea and false buttonweed is far more cost-effective than using chemicals and requires almost no upkeep. Additionally, each of these shrubs can reach a height of two feet, and they are perennials. Therefore, the likelihood of having to deal with mole crickets is substantially reduced if these plants are in place before you ever come across any. Finding out where to get these plants in Florida can be done by contacting your county extension office.
Chemical ways to get rid of mole crickets
- Insecticides—In June or July, spray chemical pesticides to eliminate mole cricket juveniles. The pyrethroids in these pesticides come in liquid, granule, and bait forms. These pesticides work best when applied to moist soil at temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and prior irrigation stimulates mole crickets to emerge from underground to feast on bait. You’ll need to keep applying these pesticides because they’re so powerful, but doing so could contaminate the groundwater supply.
- Professional exterminator—Look up a reputable pest control company online and give them a call if you’re having trouble getting rid of mole crickets on your own. They can assess the damage and suggest ways to fix the problem. Some exterminators, like On Demand Pest Control, specialize in eliminating crickets.