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Mole cricket illustration

Mole crickets

Mole crickets are serious turf pests that infest lawns throughout the southeastern coastal plain from Texas to North Carolina.

Mole crickets feed at night during warm weather and after rain showers or irrigation. They come to the surface and feed on organic material, including grass, and other small organisms, including insects. During the day, and during periods of drought, they remain in their burrows, often for long periods of time.

Like fire ants, we can not eradicate mole crickets. They are with us to stay. And like all other insects, we really cannot control them, we can only manage them so that they stay within tolerable population levels.

Adult mole crickets spend late fall and winter in the soil, feeding during warm periods and waiting for spring to arrive. Mole crickets mate in later winter and early spring as the air and soil temperatures begin to moderate. Both sexes fly on warm, humid nights looking for mates or new areas to lay eggs.

Depending on soil temperature, mole cricket eggs take about 3 — 4 weeks to hatch out in Late May or early June and then another 3 — 4 months for them to become adults.


Mole Cricket Damage

Mole crickets feed on turf grass roots, stems and leaves. They are characterized by tunnels that can be quite noticeable, especially as the mole cricket gets older.

Mole cricket control

Successful mole cricket management requires patience and regular monitoring of the situation. It is not a one-time, one-insecticide application. Control is dependent upon an annual, well-timed plan. Timing of controls and cultural practices are as important as the choice of insecticides.

The major control effort should be directed toward young nymphs (immature forms that resemble the adults only smaller and without wings). These treatments should be applied in June, July and early August while the nymphs are most sensitive to treatments.

A good time to map out problem areas in the lawn is in the spring when adult mole crickets are present. These problem areas are where most of the nymphs will be found in late June and July. These areas should be sampled carefully with a detergent flush beginning in late June. At this time, little damage is evident, but young nymphs will begin to show up following a soap flush. If young nymphs are present after a detergent flush, they should be treated.

To prepare a detergent flush, mix 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent in 1 gallon of water. Pour the mixture over a 1 — 2 square feet area where damage was present in the spring. Any mole crickets present will surface in a few minutes. This should be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon.