Mole cricket control florida

Contents

How to Kill Mole Crickets and Prevent Lawn Damage

If you suspect mole crickets at work, a simple soapy-water flush brings them to the surface and confirms your suspicions. If your soil is dry, water it well. Mole crickets stay deeper in dry soil, but moisture brings them higher. Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent (some experts say lemon-scented may work best 2,3) with 2 gallons of water in a watering can, and drench an area about 2 square feet. As the soap penetrates, mole crickets pop up. Look closely so you don’t miss tiny nymphs. If two to four mole crickets surface in three minutes, your lawn needs help.4,2

For successful control, pesticides must be able to reach mole crickets in their protective, sub-surface tunnels. Ideal treatments also expand your coverage window as nymphs hatch and start to feed. AMDRO Quick Kill Lawn Insect Killer (Granules), AMDRO Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer RTS and AMDRO Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer Concentrate deliver powerful, subsurface-reaching control to conquer these resilient, elusive pests. As an added bonus, the granular formula keeps working in the soil for up to two months, while the liquid ready-to-spray and concentrate forms work up to three months after application, so you can get back to summertime fun.

Whether you’re dealing with destructive mole crickets or other troublesome pests, you don’t have to go it alone. The people who bring you AMDRO products and the full line of AMDRO pest controls are committed to ending pest disruptions in your life and helping you protect and enjoy your home and lawn.

Amdro and Amdro Quick Kill are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.

Sources:

1. Brandenburg, Rick L., “Keeping Mole Crickets in Check,” North Carolina State University, Grounds Maintenance.

2. Brandenburg, Rick L. and Williams, C.B. III, “Mole Cricket Management in NC,” North Carolina State University, May 2002.

3. Cobb, Patricia P., “Controlling Mole Crickets on Lawns and Turf,” Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

4. Capinera, John L. and Leppla, Norman C., “Shortwinged Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus Abbreviatus Scudder; Southern Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus Borellii Giglio-Tos; and Tawny Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus Vicinus Scudder (Insecta: Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae),” University of Florida 2004.

Eliminating Mole Crickets – Information On Killing Mole Crickets

Left untreated, mole crickets can become destructive to the lawn. To prevent damage from occurring or getting out of hand, mole cricket elimination, or killing mole crickets, is often the only recourse.

Identifying Mole Crickets

These insects can be recognized by their gray-brown, velvety bodies and wide spade-like front legs, which are well adapted for digging. Adult mole crickets are about an inch to inch and a quarter in length with wings. The nymphs, or immature mole crickets, are similar looking but are smaller and have no wings.

Mole Cricket Damage

Mole cricket damage usually occurs in warmer climates, especially areas along the coast of the southeastern United States. Their damage can be recognized by irregularly raised burrows and dying grass.

These insects are often attracted to lawns that have an abundance of thatch—a thick, spongy mat of runners and undecomposed grass clippings on the soil surface. Improper mowing and excessive water or fertilizer can lead to this condition. Mole crickets find this to be a suitable habitat and will eventually overwinter within deep burrows, which are created by their extensive digging. Once the soil warms up in spring, they will work their way up to the surface to feed on grass, usually at night. This feeding also takes place in the upper inch or so of soil.

Females will begin laying eggs just beneath the soil surface in spring and early summer, with hatching coming shortly thereafter. The nymphs will then develop during summer with damage seen by mid to late July.

Organic Mole Cricket Control

Effective mole cricket control depends on the season and current life stage of the pest. Overwintered mole crickets become active in early spring. While treatment during this time reduces tunneling damage, it may not be as effective as later treatment. Summer treatment is more effective on the vulnerable nymphs. However, parasitic nematodes, which attack the adults, can be applied in spring before females lay their eggs. By the time damage is clearly visible, control is more difficult.

To check for mole crickets early in the season or the presence of young nymphs, you can flush them out with soapy water—about two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid to one gallon of water. Pour the soapy water over a 1 to 2 square foot area. Do this early in the morning or late evening. If mole crickets are present, they will surface within minutes. If at least two to four mole crickets surface, then target the area for treatment in summer. Irrigate well after applying the soapy water.

Biological controls include predator insects, like crabronid wasp and tachinid fly, as well as nematodes, which are best applied in early spring (Mar-Apr) or fall (Sept-Oct) for adult mole cricket elimination.

Eliminating Mole Crickets with Chemical Insecticides

Chemical insecticides, such as Imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced, Merit) are normally applied in June or July to kill the small nymphs. They can be controlled with sprays, granules, or baits. Apply when overnight temps are at least 60 degrees F. (16 C.) and irrigate the area beforehand. Moist soil helps with penetration of the insecticide and encourages mole crickets to come to the surface to feed on bait.

MOLE CRICKET BIOLOGY ^

Mole crickets acquired their name because they look like moles. Much like moles, they nest in lawns, feed on grubs and worms and can cause damage to valuable root systems. Though located in many states, Mole crickets are more of a problem in the southeast and southwest. In fact, this species of cricket is thought to be responsible for more than $30,000,000.00 of damage each year in the state of Florida alone!

Mostly nocturnal, mole crickets forage for food at night. In the southern most regions, they will remain active year round. Eggs will be laid continuously and since adult females lay hundreds of eggs, lawns can become infested within a year if left untreated.

Mole cricket eggs hatch in less than a month and immature crickets will quickly start to forage through turf looking for small organisms on which to feed. This tunneling causes damage to plant and grass root systems.

Although young crickets can jump fairly well, they will loose this ability as they mature and eventually rely on moving through the ground as their main means of travel.

Mole crickets are good fliers. They have been observed to fly more than 5 miles and may do so during mating periods. Mole crickets are attracted to lights which leads to houses. Once they land and begin looking for food on residential property, mole crickets will more than likely want to stay. As they begin creating nests, you will start to notice burrows or holes which resemble moles. Although smaller, many people mistake them for moles and try trapping with conventional mole traps. Needless to say, this method of mole cricket control will not work.

WILL MOLE CRICKETS DAMAGE MY YARD

Mole crickets will damage grass, plants and flowers where they tunnel. And if the damage they do does not concern you, the damage their predators cause can be much more severe will cause may prompt you to treat.

Mole crickets are highly nutritious and once populations begin to grow, expect several species of wildlife to come looking for the bounty. Common predators of mole crickets include birds, rats, skunk, armadillos, raccoon and foxes. These animals will not have a noticeable impact on the mole cricket population but they certainly will destroy your lawn.

HOW TO TREAT FOR MOLE CRICKETS

If mole crickets are active in your neighborhood and you want to make sure they don’t appear in your yard, a little bit of preventive maintenance will go a long way. Using the bait below, you can generally stop them from getting established where you treat. But the liquid spraying will last longer and control a much broader range of insect pests.

BEST MOLE CRICKET BAIT

Although baiting for mole crickets won’t work well on any significant population, it can work by intercepting foraging crickets who enter your yard. Treat every 2-3 months with MAXFORCE GRANULES at the rate of 1 oz for every 1800 sq/ft. Foraging mole crickets love this protein based food and will die within 2-3 days of feeding.

Simply sprinkle it around the yard making sure to get all property borders and mulch or flower beds they might target. Maxforce performs best when wet so it is most readily accepted after a rain or lawn watering.

SPRAY EXISTING MOLE CRICKET NESTS

Established mole cricket populations will require chemical treatments to knock them out. Due to where and how mole crickets behave and live, expect to do several treatments over the course of any growing season. If you are persistent and stick to a schedule, you should be able to keep them under control but you must remain diligent.

First, be sure to start treatments as soon as you know you have a problem.

Second, don’t expect one application to knock them out. In most cases, it will require at least two. The best approach is to treat once a month for three months. After that, using the Maxforce listed above will usually keep them from coming back. Alternatively, spraying with either of the two products listed below will keep them away as long as you treat every 2-3 months.

Since Mole Crickets are hard to kill, you need a strong working active and ideally, a non-repellent. These actives won’t spook target pests and cause them to nest away from where you treat.

The best product for the job is our 97% ORTHENE. This active is highly effective on a range of garden pests and in particular, mole crickets. Over the years, many of the pyrethroids used on mole crickets have caused some to be resistant but this won’t happen with Orthene.

Use 1 oz per 1-3 gallons of water per 1,000 sq/ft. The 1 lb bag is enough to treat about 16,000 sq/ft of turn.

When treating for mole crickets, its important to use a lot of water. Active nests and burrows you see should be drenched to help get chemical where it matters. And over the turf, pine straw and wood chips where they might be hiding, adding some SPREADER STICKER to your tank mix will help by getting the active down into the soil.

Add 1 oz of Spreader Sticker with every 1 oz of Orthene to help get deep penetration.

And though a PUMP SPRAYER can be used to make the application, you’ll be best served using a good HOSE END SPRAYER.

With our sprayer, you should add 2 oz of Orthene and 2 oz of Spreader Sticker to the tank and then fill it with water to the 5 gallon line. Next, hook it to your garden hose and disperse the entire amount over 2,000 sq/ft. Yes, this will use a lot of water. But again, a lot of water is needed to get the chemical down into the ground where mole crickets like to nest.

For the longest time, we had a product labeled for Mole Crickets called Orthene WP. It had a 75% Acephate active and worked great for mole cricket control programs. That product was taken off the market over 10 years ago but there is another product which uses the same exact formulation known as FIRE ANT KILLER. If you know of the old Orthene formulation and would like to get something like it, the Fire Ant Killer is as close as you’ll find on the market today. It does have a strong smell – like rotten eggs or bad cabbage – but it works. And since it’s labeled for use on the ground for fire ant mounds, the label usage allows for applications to the same location and site where mole crickets reside.

ODORLESS MOLE CRICKET SPRAY FOR THE YARD

If you’re put off by the sulfur like smell of orthene, go with PROTHOR. This odorless concentrate is another non-repellent designed for use in turf, plants and shrubs for a wide range of insect pests.

Prothor will take a few days to kill mole crickets much like the Orthene. But because they don’t know its present, they won’t scatter or relocate even after you treat.

Prothor goes a long way and lasts a long time. The small 27.5 oz jug is enough to treat an acre.

Use .6 oz per 1,000 sq/ft in 2-3 gallons of water along with 1 oz of the Spreader Sticker listed above. Treat once and after 2 weeks, they should be gone. If you notice more activity a month later spray again.

Using our Hose End sprayer listed above, you’ll need to add 1.2 oz of Proth and 2 oz of Spreader Sticker to the tank. Next, fill the sprayer to the 5 gallon line with water and hook it to your garden hose. Spray the entire tank over 5,000 sq/ft. For a 4,000 sq/ft area, add 2.4 oz of Prothor and 4 gallons oz of Sticker and fill the sprayer with water to the half way mark. Spray the entire amount over 10,000 sq/ft.

Mole crickets are a tough and persistent pest and if left to nest in your yard untreated, they won’t go away. Since most traditional insecticides will only push them around the yard, you’ll be best served using either Orthene or Prothor. These non-repellents take a few extra days to work but they’ll do the job for good. Once the local crickets are gone, treat with Maxforce Granular bait every 2-3 months to ensure they don’t come back.

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Things You Should Know About Mole Crickets and the Damage they Can Cause

Tanner Felbinger, Entomology & Nematology major, University of Florida

Mole crickets can be a nuisance to people’s yards, causing hassle and damage. Controlling these pests starts with knowing their identity and behavior.

What is a Mole Cricket?

Mole crickets belong to the family Gryllotalpidae and can grow up to one and a half inches long. The seven species of mole crickets found in the United States are usually brown or tan in color, and they are characterized by their unusual front legs. Known as fossorial (digging) legs, their front legs are armored with claw-like protrusions called dactyls that can easily bore into soil. As the name might suggest, mole crickets slightly resemble and behave like moles, digging complex underground tunnels. These nocturnal creatures commonly damage turf grass on lawns and golf courses and are considered a huge pest in many regions of the United States.

Why are Mole Crickets a Common Pest?

Mole crickets are an invasive species that were accidentally brought to the United States from South America by cargo ships. With very few natural predators, they breed and feed freely with their populations growing unrestricted unless there’s outside interference.

What Times are Mole Crickets Most Active?

There is only one generation of mole crickets per year, with adults causing the most damage between August and October. Peak season for mole crickets varies depending on your location, as well as the species of mole cricket in that area. Because these pests are nocturnal, they will rarely be seen destroying your yard. Instead, you may notice the incriminating evidence this pesky bug leaves behind.

How Do Mole Crickets Damage My Yard?

These pests can damage turf grass by leaving scarred, elevated burrows on the topsoil. Patches of dying grass are also an indicator of mole cricket damage. Adult and nymphal stages of mole cricket also feed on the root system of grasses; however, their feeding is not considered as damaging to turf grass as compared to their extensive tunneling. Some tunnels made by mole crickets have penetrated up to 30 inches below soil.

Aside from just mole crickets inflicting damage to your yard, other critters may further the problem by attempting to dig up mole crickets from their existing tunnels. Raccoons and armadillos are typical wildlife that may attempt to snag the bugs as a tasty treat, causing greater harm to your grass in the process.

Can Mole Crickets Hurt Me?

Mole crickets are harmless to humans directly, but do pose a threat to your lawn. They are rarely found in homes because there is typically no appealing food or hiding places for them. They thrive in areas of darkness, soil and grass that serves as a food source.

How Do I Know If My Yard Has Mole Crickets?

Most species of mole crickets are found in warmer climates, like the southeast United States. Some species, such as the northern mole cricket, can be found commonly distributed as far north as New York and Michigan.

To learn about crickets that can infest your home, read “Are Crickets Harmful?”

Next > Why Are Bugs Attracted to Light?

Tanner Felbinger is a current sophomore at the University of Florida. She’s an Entomology & Nematology major with a minor in Sustainability and plans to attend grad school for Entomology after she completes her undergraduate degree. At school, Tanner is involved in the Entomology Club, teaches group fitness classes at the campus gyms, and is an ambassador for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She is an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Phil Koehler’s Urban Entomology lab and focuses on control methods for bed bugs. When she’s not in class, Tanner enjoys being outdoors, listening to music, and practicing yoga.

Lawn Care Tips

The mole cricket is commonly considered one of the most challenging insect pests Northwest Florida residents struggle to control.

Like its name suggests, these specialized insects have large, shovel-like front claws that allow them to quickly and easily “swim” through the soil underneath turfgrass where they cause damage in two ways:

  • Their burrowing pushes grass roots up, removing them from sources of water and nutrients
  • They feed directly on the roots, destroying them

As a result, tiny, unsightly trails will appear throughout the soil in affected areas, much like miniature mole tunnels. The ground where they are most active may feel spongy because of the number of tunnels they’ve dug beneath the surface.

These tunnels are typically not visible at the start of an infestation, but they will become more visible as the turfgrass in the affected areas dries up and eventually dies, exposing the trails crisscrossing the surface of the soil.

While all Florida grass types can be at risk, St. Augustine grass may be more resistant to mole cricket attacks because of the dense growth pattern of its root system. Bermuda grass and Centipede grass, on the other hand, are more susceptible and may show damage signs quickly.

Get a free lawn evaluation to find out if you’re dealing with mole crickets.

“What can I do if mole crickets are attacking my lawn?”

If you see these classic mole cricket damage signs, it’s important to act fast and decisively. A relatively small number of crickets can do significant damage over the course of their year-long generation.

While an observant homeowner may see evidence of mole crickets year round, the heaviest damage will become evident from late August to early October.

Controlling mole crickets can involve a few different strategies:

  • Making your lawn as inhospitable as possible
  • Introducing biological controls to the environment
  • Using pesticides responsibly

All three of these strategies can help control mole cricket populations in your Pensacola lawn. Here’s how they work:

Making your lawn inhospitable to mole crickets

One of the controllable factors that can make your lawn particularly attractive to mole crickets is if your soil is always moist. Wet soil is easier for them to burrow through, so they thrive in wet conditions.

Rather than having a consistently wet lawn, the best way to water your lawn effectively is to provide no more than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of water (a thorough soaking that takes around an hour for most sprinkler systems) every 2-3 days, adjusted for significant rainfall.

Any more than that, the soil is likely too wet, which attracts mole crickets and creates the right environment for a number of other dangerous invaders like molds and fungus.

Introducing biological controls to the environment

Biological controls are beneficial species of plants and/or animals that naturally control a pest species like the mole cricket.

In this case, the “silver bullet” of biocontrols is the Larra Bicolor Wasp.

This natural enemy of the mole cricket is a non-aggressive wasp species that won’t harm humans or other animals unless trapped (like in your hand, for instance.) They are solitary wasps, so there’s no chance of accidentally stumbling on a nest.

Larra Bicolor wasps are not native to northwestern Florida, but they’ve been introduced to the area and are quite prevalent. The best way to make sure they decide to make your lawn home is to plant the two wildflowers they like the best: Shrubby False Buttonweed and Partridge Pea.

Although these are weeds and you will want to keep them controlled, they can be kept out of the way and in fairly small numbers, while still attracting sufficient wasps to the area to keep mole crickets from thriving in your yard.

Using pesticides responsibly

If alternative mole cricket control options have been used, and the problem still persists, it’s usually best to look into applying appropriate pesticides.

Although pesticides can be very effective against mole crickets, they can also affect the environment and lawn if they are misused. We strongly recommend working with a professional lawn care company to ensure the right products are applied correctly to your lawn to both control pests and keep your lawn safe.

Remember to keep an eye out for bare patches of soil with those distinctive tiny tunneling trails, especially in the late summer and early fall. As always, we welcome you to contact our Pensacola lawn maintenance company with any questions.

Grounds Maintainance

Mole crickets have traditionally been considered Southern golf course pests, but their impact goes beyond just golf courses and just the South. Athletic fields, commercial properties and home lawns can come under attack by mole crickets. While mole crickets do appear more commonly in sandier soils and in warmer climates, they pop up throughout the eastern two-thirds of the United States.

Mole crickets are subterranean insects, meaning that they spend most of their lives in the soil. This makes them a little more difficult to manage than some other turfgrass insects because their activity is hidden from us and serious damage to the turfgrass is often the first sign of an infestation. Equally important is the fact that the thatch and soil act somewhat as a means of protection for the mole cricket from any control we might apply. For these reasons, it is important to develop a good understanding of mole cricket biology. A poor appreciation of what mole crickets are doing at any particular point in time is a recipe for failure.

LIFE CYCLE

The first element to understand is the life cycle of the mole crickets. Mole crickets undergo what it referred to as gradual metamorphosis. In other words, once the mole crickets hatch until the time they become adults, the crickets look much the same. Similar to the manner in which a child looks like an adult, small crickets look much the same as when they get older. When finally mature, mole crickets will possess wings.

The process of going through this development begins in the spring when adult females lay eggs in small groups of 12 to 20 in the soil. The eggs typically hatch in about three weeks and the small nymphs begin feeding and growing. The small nymphs are the easiest to control, yet are the least likely to draw attention to themselves. As a general rule, you cannot observe visible surface damage until the crickets are about 3/4 inch long. Even though their feeding isn’t visible, you can monitor these crickets using a technique known as a soapy water flush. You can create the soapy water flush by adding approximately two ounces of liquid dishwashing detergent to one gallon of water. Slowly pour this solution over a 3- × 3-foot area. As the soapy water soaks into the soil, the small crickets will rapidly emerge to escape. Keep watch over the area during the next 3 to 5 minutes and you will be able to determine if crickets are present and their size. As crickets become larger, this technique becomes less effective.

Crickets overwinter either as large nymphs or adults and may continue to feed depending upon winter soil temperatures. The warm spring weather allows all crickets to complete development to adults. When they reach adulthood, mating soon begins. The population of adults mate and lay eggs at that time. Most mating and egg-laying occurs in the spring.

The adult males make a small chamber in the soil from which they emit a mating call to attract females. Males often make their calling chambers in areas of moist soil, as it enhances distribution of the sound. More importantly, the females often lay eggs near the area where they mate. This helps them ensure that they lay eggs in moist soil, increasing the likelihood the eggs will hatch and the newly-hatched crickets will survive. The need for soil moisture most likely influences when the mature mole crickets become pests. Periods of increased rainfall, which coincide with the mating period, may create more sites for mating and egg laying because they provide more areas of moist soil (in addition to the normal moist-soil areas near ponds and streams and in low areas or areas receiving significant irrigation).

TYPES OF MOLE CRICKETS

Two species of mole crickets are responsible for the bulk of turf damage in the southeastern United States. The tawny mole cricket feeds primarily on the roots of turfgrass while the southern mole cricket is more of a predator, tunneling through the soil to find other creatures to eat. Both species can cause serious turf damage. Except in south Florida, the life cycle for both species is quite similar in that they both have one generation per year. This means it takes one year for the cricket to complete its development and reproduce. Shortly after mating in the spring, the adults die.

The short-winged mole cricket doesn’t fly, and its distribution is limited to south Florida. The native northern mole cricket is found throughout the eastern two-thirds of the United States. It is most common near water, especially around ponds and lakes, and along creeks, streams and rivers. This is not commonly a turfgrass pest, but on occasion does cause serious problems. The northern mole cricket may require more than a year to complete its life cycle in many locations.

The three most troublesome species, the tawny, southern and short-winged mole crickets, are all introduced species. This simply means they are not native to the United States, and were introduced by accident about 100 years ago. As a result, these crickets are not kept in check by a large number of natural enemies. Their pest status is due, in part, to the absence of predators and parasites to attack them.

CONTROLLING MOLE CRICKETS

How do you go about effectively managing mole crickets in turfgrass? Selecting the appropriate insecticide is only a small part of the overall program. Incorrect use of even the best product can lead to disappointing results. Putting your knowledge to use about pest biology and occurrence in your area is critical to success.

First, you need to know the species of mole crickets you are dealing with. Then you must recognize the life cycle and timing of occurrence of this species in your area.

Typically, mole crickets lay their eggs in spring, but hatch can vary by well over a month in the southeastern United States alone. If you know when egg hatch should occur, then you know when you should begin the soapy water flushes to confirm the presence of small nymphs.

If you keep good records of where mole crickets occur (wher you have observed serious damage in the past), then you can efficiently use your time by implementing the soapy water flush in those areas that have a history of mole cricket problems.

Mole crickets are creatures of habit and often occur in the same areas over and over again. This isn’t to say they can’t show up in new areas, but they do have preferred sites.

A conventional insecticide is going to be most effective and control crickets quickly when you target it at the small nymphs. These nymphs are more susceptible and are feeding near the soil surface. As crickets get larger, they not only are a little hardier and tougher to kill, but they can also tunnel deeper in the soil and sometimes escape the effects of the insecticide application.

When soil moisture is low, the crickets have a tendency to remain deeper in the soil. Dry soil conditions make mole cricket control more difficult as the cricket’s depth decreases the likelihood the insecticide will make contact. Additionally, the dry soil and organic matter may lead to an increase in binding of the insecticide, which results in less availability of the product.

Pre-irrigation of the affected area, as well as post-treatment irrigation, may be beneficial in enhancing mole cricket control. The pre-irrigation helps thoroughly wet the soil and organic matter, which may improve insecticide movement. It may also help move the mole cricket closer to the surface. But don’t put too much water out after treatment (more than ½ inch). This may lead to runoff, and our research shows this may actually reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

In the weeks that follow treatment, monitor control in the most problematic areas with the soapy water flush. Remember that it may take many treatments a week or two to become fully effective. The larger the mole cricket, the longer time required to observe good control.

Research indicates that there is significant variability in control with specific products based upon local conditions. Find out which products are recommended for mole cricket control in your area and which ones perform best.

STEP IT UP

There are four important steps to mole cricket control.

  1. Map the areas of infestation. You can often do this in the spring, based upon activity of the adults. The adults usually lay eggs back in the same area where you observed their activity in the spring.

  2. Monitor egg hatch with a soapy water flush.

  3. A couple of weeks after significant egg hatch occurs, apply the appropriate product to control the small nymphs. Applying the product too early may result in the residual activity declining prior to end of egg hatch. Applying the product too late may result in poor control because the earliest hatching crickets have gotten too large.

  4. Perform follow-up monitoring of control and spot treat any areas where you determine the individual control to be less than acceptable.

By following these guidelines and correct timing of your application, you can make great strides in managing this troublesome pest. Like any soil pest, mole crickets are difficult to control and you should never expect 100-percent control.

Dr. R.L. Brandenburg is a professor and extension turfgrass entomologist at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C.).

Southern mole cricket, Scapteriscus borellia Giglio-Tos (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae). Photo by Drees.

Common Name: Mole cricket
Scientific Name: Scapteriscus borellia Giglio-Tos
Order: Orthoptera

Description: Mole crickets have front legs enlarged, shovel-like and modified for digging. Adults are cylindrical, nearly 1-1/2 inches long and dull brown. The shield-like segment just behind the head (pronotum) is marked with two pairs of pale spots. There are two finger-like projections (dactyls) on the terminal segment of the front leg (tibiae) separated by a u-shaped gap, and the hind tibiae is longer than the pronotum. Adults have well-developed wings covering 3/4 of the abdomen when held at rest. They fly at night, can run quickly, but are poor jumpers. Nymphs resemble adults but are smaller and do not have fully developed wings.

The northern mole cricket, Neocurtilla hexadactyla (Perty), is a native species and also occurs throughout the eastern part of Texas. Although less numerous, it produces damage similar to the southern mole cricket. It can be identified by having four fingers on the dactyls on the digging claw. The tawny mole cricket, Scapteriscus vicinus Scudder, is closely-related to the southern mole cricket. It occurs in other southeastern states as far west as Louisiana, and has only recently been detected in Texas. This is a plant feeding (phytophagous) species that tends to occur in much higher numbers and causes more extensive injury to turfgrass and crops. In contrast to the southern mole cricket, the tawny mole cricket lacks pale spots on the pronotum and the space between the pair of dactyls on the front tibiae is smaller, appearing V-shaped.

Life Cycle: Simple metamorphosis (egg, nymph, adult). Winter is spent as partially grown nymphs and as adults. In spring and early summer, mating and dispersal flights occur and afterwards females lay eggs in cells dug in the soil. Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks and nymphs develop through eight stages (instars) during the summer months. One generation is produced per year, although a second generation may occur in southern Texas.

Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: This is a soil insect (feed at or slightly below the soil surface on roots, tubers and stems) that invades soil in pastures, gardens, field crops and turfgrass. Infestations are usually very spotty and localized. Mole crickets prefer sandy soil and are often found in golf courses and live in 1/2 inch diameter burrows. They are active at night and either tunnel just beneath the surface up to 20 feet per night when soil is moist in search of insect prey or come to the surface and run about freely.

Tunneling activities can be very disruptive to many plants. They loosen the soil around the root system, causing the roots to dry out. Bermudagrass and bahiagrass, particularly in areas with sandy soil, are often more affected than St. Augustinegrass. Reduction of plant stand is common. The small mounds and tunnels or ridges of soil are a particular problem on golf course putting greens.

Pest Status: Feeds primarily on other insects and earthworms as nymphs and adults; their prey-searching activities involving digging shallow tunnels in soil, resembling mole runs, which disrupt rootsystems of turfgrass and crops. The southern mole cricket occurs in the eastern one-third of the state, having spread westward after being accidentally introduced into Galveston and other southeastern locations form South America around 1900. Life stages are not medically harmful to man and animals.

For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.

Literature: Brandenburg and Villani 1995; Brook et al. 1982; Crocker and Beard 1982; Niemczyk 1981; Sailer et al. 1984.

You may associate their song with summer when it hits its peak, but their singing will continue into early fall.

There are eight major groups of crickets in North America including mole crickets (family Gryllotalpidae). The family is comprised of seven species, four of which are exotic. The most notorious of the bunch is the very successful and widespread Southern Mole Cricket. It is a large and destructive introduced cricket which often becomes problematic in yards, crops and gardens.

Wisconsin’s most common mole cricket is the Northern Mole Cricket. It is native and found throughout much of the eastern U.S. While a powerful digger, it is much less destructive than the southern species and only rarely considered a nuisance in turf lawns. The Northern Mole Cricket is found in wet soils along ponds, streams, and rivers. It is rarely seen because it spends most of its life in extensive underground tunnels. It amplifies its volume by singing into carefully sculpted megaphone-shaped hollows (shown at right).

The mole cricket gets its name from its mole-like shape of its body and forelegs. The forelegs are wide and shovel-like (shown at left), much like that of a mammalian mole. The legs are situated with two or four dactyls, which look almost tooth-like and assist in digging. Most introduced species have two larger dactyls while most native species have four, smaller ones. All species of mole crickets are hairy and have a large shield-like pronotum at the top-most, dorsal part of the thorax (thought to aid in digging). Due to their nocturnal, underground nature, they have tiny eyes situated on either side of their head. Mole crickets are adept flyers and because they are not strong hoppers, they tend to fly from location to location rather than hop.

Female mole crickets dig special chambers for their eggs. Up to 100 bean-shaped eggs (shown at right) are laid in the summer and hatch as nymphs in the late summer/early fall. The nymphs dig to the surface where they will become mature and lay their own eggs the following summer.

Mole crickets are omnivores and their diet includes grubs, roots, other invertebrates and grass. Some of their biggest predators are birds, raccoons, wasps, and small mammals. Mole crickets have been known to bite humans, but will only do so if handled.

Fun Facts:

  • The typical life span of a mole cricket is two years.
  • The male mole cricket’s song is said to be similar to that of a nightjar Caprimulgus europeaeus.
  • Friendly wasps? The Larra bi-color wasp feeds primarily on mole crickets and is one of the few things known to keep the destructive Southern Mole Cricket in check.
  • Mole crickets are found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • In parts of East-Asia, mole crickets are often fried and eaten as food.

Moles

What are moles?

Moles are small insectivores that live almost exclusively underneath the ground. They live their life traveling through intricate tunnel systems that they create just under the ground’s surface and much deeper in the ground. In the more shallow tunnels they look for and feed on worms, insects, and plant roots and bulbs. Moles prefer to live a solitary life in their own tunnel system except during breeding season.

What do they look like?

Adult moles have a tube-shaped body that is covered in dark, short, dense, velvet-like fur. Their eyes and ears are very small and under-developed; their nose is narrow and pointed. Moles have short limbs that are very powerful; their front feet are enlarged and are used for digging through the dirt.

Do moles bite?

Like any mammal, moles have the potential to bite; but they rarely, if ever, bite people. They seldom come up to the surface of the ground and therefore rarely come into contact with people; moles are not considered to be a physical threat to humans.

Are moles dangerous?

Moles are not dangerous to people. They are, however, dangerous to the lawn and landscapes that they are invading. They can cause significant, costly damage to the root system of grasses and ornamental plants as they create their tunnels and forage for food.

What are the signs of a mole infestation?

Signs of moles on your property can include:

  • Discovering molehills on your lawn. They are typically a few inches high and wide. Molehills are made from the dirt that the moles have removed from the ground as they create their tunnels.

  • Seeing raised areas or “tunnels” winding or twisting across your lawn.

  • Noticing some plant and/or grass damage or death.

Why do I have a mole problem?

Moles are often found invading golf courses, parks, and lawns; many properties that are having problems with moles are located adjacent to or very close to wooded areas. A healthy green lawn with easy digging soil that is full of insects and worms is the perfect environment for moles to invade and live in.

How do I get rid of moles?

Moles are a difficult pest to get rid of especially on your own. Many moles will live together in their own tunnels on the same piece of property. Without professional help it can be difficult to locate all the active tunnels and their entrances. The best way to completely get rid of moles is with the help of a professional pest control expert. If you need help with mole control in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Connecticut, contact the mole experts at Big Blue Bug Solutions.

Mole prevention tips from Big Blue Bug Solutions

Preventing a mole infestation is a very tough task; they look for and invade healthy lawns that have sandy loose soil that they can easily dig through. The best way to prevent a large infestation is to get help from Big Blue Bug Solutions at the first sign of these pests and/or their tunnels on your property.

Helpful Articles About Moles

Do Moles Remain Active During The Winter?

  • Classification:

Species category: Crickets and Grasshoppers

Latin Name: Gryllotalpa spp. / Scapteriscus didactylus

What are Mole Crickets?

Mole Cricket Description:

The Mole Cricket is a large insect that will typically reach 40-50mm in length during adulthood. Unlike typical crickets, it does not feature the elongated hind legs of most species. This pest burrows in soil and so its front legs are adapted to give it extra strength.

It has a long, multi-segmented body and is dark brown in colour with a silky sheen; its underside has a much paler, yellow colour.

Mole Cricket Behaviour:
Adults and older nymphs over-winter in the soil. Eggs are laid in early spring with hatching following shortly afterwards. Each female lays between 100 and 200 eggs into a chamber within the soil.
Mole crickets are able to produce up to 10 clutches of eggs with over 450 eggs in each clutch. A female will stay with her eggs and protect them until they hatch. Nymphs mature during the summer and create maximum damage in late summer and early autumn.
During mating the males uniquely use the burrow to amplify their mating song and attract the female, this amplification also allows them to test the moisture levels in the hole.
Region :
Widespread distribution across Europe and now America, it is also common in Australia
Habitat:
Mole crickets burrow deep into the soil to lay their eggs, creating networks of tunnels underground. They prefer a moisture-rich soil and struggle in arid ground. They are commonly found on irrigated land or swampy grounds.

Risks associated with Mole Crickets:
This pest causes considerable damage by uplifting the root systems of turf and agricultural crops. It can create patchy and uneven playing fields by making a series of holes and tunnel structures under the surface. It also feeds on the crops, damaging them and in some cases, killing them off.

Not a mole, not a rat: The forbidding environment of East Africa’s deserts is home to one of the most bizarre rodents, the naked mole-rat. These beauties wouldn’t win any pageants, but they are fascinating animals. Yes, these odd little creatures with pink, wrinkly skin dig and live in underground burrows the way moles do. Yes, they have skinny, rat-like tails. Yet naked mole-rats are more closely related to porcupines, chinchillas, and guinea pigs than they are to moles or rats and are the only species of mole-rat that has practically no hair.

Why are they “naked”? Native to the desert regions of East Africa, which can be pretty warm during the day, naked mole-rats live underground. If it does get cold at night, the little mammals just huddle together in a mole-rat pile and use each other’s body heat to keep warm. And since they spend their lives underground, they don’t need hair for sun protection. It’s hard to see, but naked mole-rats do have about 100 fine hairs on their body that act like whiskers to help them feel what’s around them. Hairs between their toes help sweep soil behind them while tunneling.

Most mole-rat species live by themselves. But the naked mole-rat and the Damaraland mole-rat are the only two mammal species that are eusocial (yew SO shul). This means they live in a colony that may have several generations living together and just a few individuals that produce all the offspring for the colony, much the way bees and ants live. Scientists believe the naked mole-rats’ eusocial behavior is due to the challenges of living underground in the desert, where there is little food or water.

A naked mole-rat colony may have from 20 to 300 individuals living in an underground area that can be as large as 6 football fields! It is filled with a tunnel system that stays at a warm temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), even though the outside temperature can get much colder or warmer. To keep the colony healthy and safe, there are chambers, or rooms, at different points along the tunnel system.

Each chamber has a purpose, just like the rooms in your home. There is the nesting chamber, or nursery, where the queen (dominant female) stays with the pups (babies), and feeding chambers, used for collecting and storing food—a mole-rat pantry! There is even a toilet chamber, where the members go to the bathroom (sorry, no shower).

Most people think naked mole-rats are blind. Their tiny eyes are not much use underground, but they can still see a little bit. However, mole-rats rely on their senses of hearing, smell, and touch more than they do their sight. Researchers have studied them in both light and dark environments and find their behavior doesn’t change.

MOLECRICKETS

Mole crickets are the number one pest of yards and turf areas in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. In recent years, because of the warm winters, their range has extended as far north as the coastal areas of North Carolina and New Jersey. Their damage appears as brown spongy areas within normal green grass. These spots are very soft to walk on.

Upon inspection you will notice the grass roots have been eaten. They are especially fond of Bermuda, St. Augustine and Centipede grass. If left untreated, they can completely destroy a city yard in a matter of weeks.

Adult mole crickets are plump, winged and 1 to 1.25 inches long. They are seldom seen, because, like moles, they stay underground most of the time eating the roots of your grass.

They fly and mate twice a year, spring and fall. At this time you will find their exit holes about an inch in diameter. These holes are surrounded by small kernels of dirt. The nymphs are wingless but look like small adults. The nymphs can become very numerous and cause great damage to your grass during the warm summer months.

Mole Cricket Control

Mole crickets have become resistant to most of the common insecticides. These include Diazinon, Dursban, Malathion and Sevin.

Molecrickets are not resistant to Talstar. Talstar is a liquid concentrated insecticide which is labeled for the control of mole crickets, ants, fire ants, fleas, ticks and many other lawn insects. The active ingredient is Bifenthrin (a synthetic pyrethroid). Talstar carries a caution label.

Mole Cricket Control Using TALSTAR.

Talstar is in the synthetic pyrethroid group of insecticides. It is very safe towards non-target animals such as birds, reptiles and mammals. Each pint when mixed with water covers 30,000 sq. ft., 2 or 3 applications are needed each year for continuous protection.

Molecricket adults: Water the yard before applying the Talstar. This pulls the mole crickets to the surface. Water again after applying Talstar. This ensures that the pesticide penetrates the thatch for a good kill. Two or three applications are needed each year for continuous mole cricket protection. For mole cricket nymphs the first application of Talstar should be made in the early spring when grass is greening.

Talstar is also an excellent insecticide for controlling ticks, ants, fleas and fire ants outside.

  • Fire ant control article
  • Tick control article
  • Flea control article
  • Ant control article

It is very unlikely that you will find a product containing Bifenthrin (Talstar) locally. It is usually sold to pest control companies only. We ship our orders the same day or the day after they are received, so you can expect your shipment to arrive within 3-5 days.

A Mole Cricket: All You Should Know to Get Rid of This Insect for Good

We’ve picked 7 products containing the said active components for you to order online immediately.

Bayer Advanced 700288 Complete Insect Killer for Soil and Turf Granules, 10-Pound

This is the most economical product, an effective granule substance containing imidacloprid and cyfluthrin. It kills all the terrestrial and underground insects, it doesn’t require being solved in the water and is quite economical: as a 10-pound pack will be sufficient for 5,000 ft2. It can also kill worms, insect larvae and other pests. Use these granules to create a protective barrier after the initial treatment once you make sure all the mole crickets are dead. According to the feedback, it is effective even after heavy downpours.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Bayer 700288S Advanced Complete Insect Killer for Soil and Turf Granules, 10-Pound

By SBM Life Science

$12.97 $19.99

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

Southern Ag Carbaryl 5% Dust Sevin, 16oz – 1 Pound

This is the most eco-friendly insecticide found. A pack contains 1 pound of it and the sellers claim that an acre requires 20-40 pounds of the product. Its active ingredient carbaryl, also known as sevyn, has a benefit of not accumulating in human and animal bodies and is harmless even for small pets, such as rabbits. It is mostly used indoors and on small lots infested with parasites. Sometimes it is used as flea treatment as well.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Southern Ag Carbaryl 5 Percent Sevin Dust (Controls Insects), 1 Pound

By Southern Ag

$15.39 $15.99

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide Dust, 1 LB

Out of over 250 customer reviews, the majority are positive as the product has been given a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating. The dust contains deltamethrin and is suitable for getting rid of termites and fighting against ants, bedbugs, various beetles, cockroaches, crickets, fleas, silverfish, arboretum, caterpillars, bees, millipedes, scorpions, spiders, wasps, moths, carpet beetles, suharnits, slugs, ticks and countless plant pests, including mole crickets. This product is far from being convenient, it can be applied with a brush, a broom or a mop, but nevertheless it is useful. A pack can treat a surface of up to 2000 sq ft. Its peculiarity is that Delta dust dehydrates insects and can be useless if there is a lot of water around. A mole cricket poisoned with deltamethrin can satisfy its thirst and survive. So, we only recommend using this product on dry sandy soils.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide Dust, 1 LB

By Bayer

$19.93

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

Spectracide HG-95830 Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate, Ready-to-Spray

This is the most cut-rate product reviewed. This is a regular spray that is easy to use. This Spectracide with gammacyhalothrin being its active ingredient has earned a rating of 4 stars out of 5. It is sufficient for a 5,120 sq ft lawn, kills over 250 insect species, acts for three months and kills both larvae and adult mole crickets once it penetrates the soil and gets underground (that’s just what we need!). It is incredibly convenient to use as you simply connect the sprayer to a water hose and water the lawn! There is even a training video. If you want to work manually, without using a hose, connect the sprayer to a regular container.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer For Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate, Ready-to-Spray, 32-Ounce, 6-Pack

By United Industries (full casepacks)

$37.34

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

Talstar

This is the most effective product with long lasting effect. Its active ingredient is 7.9% bifenthrin which is a highly toxic pesticide. If using all the previous products was in vain, 1,590 users recommend the powerful Talstar rated at 4.7 stars out of 5. It is highly likely to poison all the fish and birds in the neighborhood, 75 insect species and it will absolutely sure kill your rabbits, if you have any. Talstar is lethal for the long-eared pets but is barely toxic for humans. A ¾ gallon jug will be enough for a large area if you dissolve it in a ratio from the manual: an ounce of the product in a gallon of water. Be careful as Talstar acts for three months continuously and effectively.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Talstar 3/4 Gallon Pros Pest Control Insecticide (96Oz Jug)

By FMC TECHNOLOGIES

$45.49 $69.99

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

Permethrin SFR 36.8% permethrin Quart 6666105

This is a well-known and popular permethrin, which is even used to soak clothes without doing any harm to humans. The price for 2.35 pounds is slightly superior to that of Talstar but the customer rating is just as high: 4.7 stars out of 5. Most often it is used to get rid of ants, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, as we’ve mentioned in our earlier reviews. It is still effective against mole crickets as well if you apply it just like Talstar: spray the entire soil with it and use the proper concentration ratio stated in the manual. Be cautious as concentrated permethrin can cause chemical burn if it comes in contact with your skin! It is not recommended for use if you have any cats at home as they can be poisoned.

x Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission AdChoices Product from Amazon, Publisher may get a commission Control Solutions Inc. 82004505 Permethrin SFR Termiticide/Insecticide 32oz

By Control Solutions

$28.14

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Check the current price

As we can see, there is a variety of mole cricket control products. Try using homemade products or nematodes first before moving on to more powerful pesticides.

Mole Cricket Control Products Comparison Chart

Product Type Active Ingredient
Dr. Pye’s Scanmask 10 Million Live Beneficial Nematodes Biological killer
Bayer Advanced 700288 Complete Insect Killer Insecticide granules Imidacloprid & cyfluthrin
Southern Ag Carbaryl 5% Dust Sevin organic insecticide dust Sevin (carbaryl)
Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide Dust insecticide dust Deltamethrin
Spectracide HG-95830 Triazicide Insect Killer Concentrated killer spray Gamma-cyhalothrin
Talstar Pro 96 ounce Concentrated insecticide Bifenthrin
Permethrin SFR 36.8% permethrin Quart Concentrated insecticide Permethrin

Mole Cricket Management in Turfgrass

Turfgrass management involves a basic knowledge of several different cultural practices, such as proper irrigation, fertilization, and mowing. However, a knowledge of insect pest and disease management can be just as important. Insects and diseases can be quite troublesome, and one very troublesome insect pest that causes significant damage to turfgrass in the Southern United States is the mole cricket.

In South Carolina, there are three species of mole crickets that occur mainly in the sandy coastal regions. They include the tawny mole cricket (Neoscapteriscus vicinus), the southern mole cricket (Neoscapteriscus borellii), and the northern mole cricket (Neocurtilla hexadactyla). The tawny mole cricket, and to a lesser extent, the southern mole cricket, are important pests that have a major impact on turfgrass management programs. The northern mole cricket is native to South Carolina but causes little, if any, damage to lawns.

Both the tawny and southern mole crickets are introduced species in the United States. These species are believed to have been introduced into the United States in the ballasts of ships from South America. Mole crickets were first detected in coastal port towns, such as Brunswick GA, Charleston SC, and Mobile AL, during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Once established, these insects spread rapidly through the sandy coastal areas of the southeast.

Of these, the tawny mole cricket is most destructive to home lawns. It feeds almost exclusively on turfgrass roots and shoots, while the southern mole cricket feeds primarily on small organisms in the soil and rarely on the turf itself. In addition to their destructive feeding habits, these insects tunnel through the soil just beneath the lawn. This tunneling can be severely damaging to highly managed turfgrass, especially golf greens.

Description

Both the tawny and southern mole cricket have cricket-like appearance. Like all insects, they have three pairs of legs, three segmented body parts, and a set of antennae. Their forelegs are modified for digging through the soil and resemble the front legs of a mole. The tawny mole cricket is a bigger, more robust insect as compared to the southern mole cricket. The tawny mole cricket is tan colored, while the southern mole cricket is darker brown to almost black. Four lightly colored dots located on top of the head is another distinctive characteristic of the southern mole cricket. The tawny mole crickets mature to 1½- to 2-inches long, while the smaller southern mole cricket matures to 1- to 1½-inches long.

As a comparison, above are the northern, short-winged, tawny, and Southern mole crickets.
University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Life Cycle

Successful mole cricket management programs include a thorough knowledge of the life cycle of the insect.

Both the southern and tawny mole crickets have similar life cycles in South Carolina. Fortunately, these mole crickets have only one generation per year. In regions further south, they can have two or more generations per year.

Mole crickets have three life stages in their development, the egg stage, the immature stage (also known as the larval or nymph stage), and the adult stage. Mole crickets can overwinter as either an immature or adult, from October through March. Although typically inactive while overwintering, periods of warm winter weather may cause them to become more active. Small tunneling or mound building can be seen during these warm spells. Mole crickets overwintering as immatures will develop into adults during the spring.

As temperatures warm from late March into April, adults become more active as they begin to fly and start the mating process. Adult males seek out a good area for females to lay eggs, they may return to the same spot year after year. This is the reason why mole crickets are often found in the same areas of the lawn each year.

The forelegs of mole crickets are strong, flattened, and have 4 claw-like projections for digging.
Natasha Wright, Cook’s Pest Control, Bugwood.org

Once a suitable location is found, the male will dig a small tunnel or chamber with an opening to the soil surface. A small mound of soil with a visible opening may appear in the lawn during this time. This mating chamber is a funnel-shaped and acts as a megaphone for the male as it calls out to females.

Though similar in appearance to earthworm mounds, mole cricket calling chambers differ in that earthworm mounds appear as though constructed with the small, round pellet-like granules, while the mole cricket mounds appear like the soil was pushed up from underneath with a hole in the middle.

To attract a female, the male produces a low cricket-like chirp for about an hour after sunset. These calls may be heard during warm nights in late March and April.

Once a female has been attracted, mating occurs within the chamber. Shortly after mating, she digs down several inches in the soil and lays a cluster of around 35 eggs. Females will typically construct 3 to 5 chambers and lay 100 to 150 eggs. Males die after mating, while females die shortly after laying eggs.

Eggs typically hatch approximately 20 days after being laid. Egg hatching is soil temperature dependent, with early warm temperatures causing earlier egg hatch, and cooler spring temperatures delaying egg hatch by as much as a month.

After egg hatch, the immature, or nymph, mole cricket is about ¼-inch long. As the immature cricket grows, it sheds its outer layer (called molting), somewhat like a snake sheds its skin. The younger nymphs do not have wings but grow wing pads as they slowly mature. They go through six to eight molts during the immature stage.

The immature growth stage typically occurs from mid-May through July in South Carolina. Again, this is temperature dependent and the timing of this stage may be shifted with the changing spring temperatures. Although the small mole crickets are feeding during this time, little damage is produced. The reasons for this are because they are still small, and the warm-season turfgrasses are growing rapidly and mask any damage.

As mole crickets reach maturity from late August to October, they now produce significant damage to lawns occurs due to their tunneling and feeding habits. Soil temperature and moisture influence mole cricket activity with more feeding damage observed during warm, wet weather.

By October, mole crickets reach their mature stage. Activity can be quite sporadic at this time due to the fluctuating fall temperatures. Once winter temperatures set in, mole crickets move deeper into the soil to overwinter.

Mole Cricket Management

Successful mole cricket management requires both patience and regular monitoring of mole cricket activity. Unfortunately, management is not as simple as applying an insecticide and being done. Successful mole cricket management depends upon well-timed controls measures and good cultural practices. Maintain proper soil nutrients by testing the soil and applying the recommended fertilizers and lime. Mow the lawn at the correct height for the grass species, and irrigate properly for the season, temperature, and soil type. For more information, please see fact sheets HGIC 1652, Soil Testing, HGIC 1207, Watering Lawns, and HGIC 1205 Mowing Lawns.

The intensity of a mole cricket management program is determined by the purpose for the turfgrass in question. Highly maintained sports turf, such as a golf course putting green requiring a smooth and blemish-free surface with zero tolerance for mole cricket activity, will require intense management. Sod farms and areas used for sports, such as football, baseball, or soccer fields, can tolerate slightly more mole cricket activity. While commercial and home lawns can tolerate the most mole cricket activity. Therefore, the management level chosen should be tailored to the specific situation and the accepted tolerance to turfgrass damage.

Monitoring & Managing

Before beginning any control program, it must first be determined if there is a mole cricket infestation. To determine when to apply the treatment, first use a soapy water drench in the areas where the mole crickets are located. Mix 1 to 2 fluid ounces of a liquid dish soap in a gallon of water, and then pour this mixture onto a 2 square foot area. They will come to the soil surface rather quickly if present. This will aid in the identification of mole cricket species and what life stage is present.

If so, then map the area within the lawn where this infestation is located and note the extent of the insect population. Mole crickets will generally infest the same areas of turfgrass year after year. By ‘mapping’ infested areas, more accurate pest management can be performed, as only those areas of turf infested with mole crickets are treated, resulting in a reduction in the amount of insecticides applied.

Begin monitoring the mapped area during late winter for signs of poor turf growth and loosened soil. As temperatures begin to warm in the spring, continue to watch for tunneling and mound building. Chemical control for adults is not recommended during the spring unless insect activity is excessive and results in turf loss because once egg laying is complete, all adults die and no further damage should occur.

The best time to treat the lawn with insecticides for mole crickets is during June and July because turfgrass damage is minor and the mole crickets are still immature and small.

Additional summer chemical treatments of nymphs along the coast of South Carolina are usually made in mid-July to early August. During this time, the majority of eggs will have hatched, and the mole crickets are less than ½-inch in length. Additionally, the soil should be warm and moist providing maximum cricket activity, which improves pesticide efficacy (effectiveness). If the soil is very dry due to a lack of rainfall, water the lawn well or wait until there is an inch of rainfall because the mole crickets dig down deeper into the soil during dry periods, reducing the effectiveness of pesticide applications.

A mole cricket management program will not provide 100% control. Mole cricket activity and chemical efficacy are both influenced by weather and soil conditions. With these conditions constantly changing, the reduction of mole cricket populations in turfgrass becomes more of a “management” solution instead of a “control” solution. Summer treatments may need to be followed by an early fall follow up treatment if insect activity is still high. Winter chemical treatments are the least effective and should only be applied during warm periods if insect activity spikes. In addition to lower insect activity in the winter, chemicals are less effective on larger, mature insects.

Control Measures

There are both chemical and nonchemical options to manage mole crickets in turfgrass. Nonchemical choices are limited, though new techniques are continuously being evaluated. Some beneficial insects and diseases have shown promise for reduction of mole cricket populations. However, at this time, the only commercially available product employs a beneficial nematode for control. When applied to a turf area, the nematodes infect mole crickets with a bacterium, which in turn kills them. Management with beneficial nematode can be slow and may not prove to be as effective as chemical control.

Mole cricket baits may be purchased at local garden centers or feed and seed stores. These baits provide good mole cricket control, especially during the spring and fall when adults are active. Be sure to read and follow all label directions for applications. Do not water the lawn for 2 to 3 days after a bait application.

Several chemical insecticides are labeled for mole cricket control in residential turfgrass. When applying a lawn insecticide, it is very important to read and follow all label directions pertaining to timing and method of application. Water the lawn well the day before application of baits and granular or liquid insecticides. Additionally, most insecticides must be watered into the lawn after application. Mole cricket baits also will need the lawn to be watered the day before application, but one the bait is applied, do not water the lawn again for 2 to 3 days, as this will dissolve the bait. Apply all mole cricket insecticides and baits as late in the day as possible.

For Home Lawn Applications: Insecticides and baits are available for mole cricket control in residential lawns, and these may be purchased at most garden centers, feed and seed stores, and landscape supply stores. These products include granular and spray insecticides with the following active ingredients within three insecticidal classes:

  • neonicotinoids: imidacloprid or clothianidin,
  • organophosphates: trichlorfon,
  • synthetic pyrethroids: lambda or gamma cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, beta cyfluthrin, zeta cypermethrin, or permethrin.

Mole crickets may develop a resistance to one specific class of insecticide if it used for several repeated applications in the lawn. Therefore, alternate applications using products where each contains a different class of insecticide. For example, if the first lawn application contains a synthetic pyrethroid, then the second application should contain a neonicotinoid or organophosphate insecticide. A few combination products contain two classes of insecticides, which also prevents resistance from occurring.

Mole cricket baits are available and contain carbaryl or indoxacarb, which are uniquely different classes of insecticides from the granular or spray insecticides above, and these can be used to further reduce the chance of insecticidal resistance by the mole crickets. See Table 1 for examples of products containing these active ingredients.

For Landscape Professionals: An extensive list of insecticide controls is included in Clemson University’s Pest Control Guidelines for Professional Turfgrass Managers. This publication is updated annually and gives turfgrass managers a valuable tool for chemical control selection.

Table 1. Examples of Insecticide & Bait Products for Mole Cricket Control in Residential Lawns.

Brand & Product Active Ingredient(s) Forms, Sizes & Rates
Pyrethroid Insecticides
Martin’s Bifen I/T Concentrate Bifenthrin 7.9% Conc.: 4, 16, 32, 96 & 128 fl oz
Talstar P Professional Insecticide Bifenthrin 7.9% Conc.: 16, 32, 96 & 128 fl oz
Hi-Yield Bug Blaster Bifenthrin 2.4 Concentrate & RTS Bifenthrin 2.4% Conc.: 16, & RTS: 32 fl oz
Monterey Turf & Ornamental Insect Spray RTS Bifenthrin 2.4% RTS: 32 fl oz for 10.6k sq ft
Ferti-Lome Broad Spectrum Insecticide Concentrate; & RTS Bifenthrin 0.3% Conc.: 16 fl oz
RTS: 32 fl oz for 2667 sq ft
Martin’s Flee RTS Yard Spray Bifenthrin 0.3% RTS: 32 fl oz for 2667 sq ft
Martin’s Bifen L/P Granules Bifenthrin 0.2% Granules: 25 lb/ 5 to 10k sq ft
Hi-Yield Bug Blaster Turf Insect Control Granules Bifenthrin 0.2% 11.5 lb & 23 lb bags Use 2.3 – 4.6 lbs per 1000 sq ft
Hi-Yield Bug Blaster II Granules Bifenthrin 0.2% Granules: 11.5 lbs for 5k sq ft.; 23 lbs for 10k sq ft
Southern Ag LawnStar Granular Insecticide Bifenthrin 0.2% Granules 10 & 20 lbs
Ortho Bug-B-Gon Insect Killer for Lawns Bifenthrin 0.115% Granules: 10 & 20 lbs bags
Amdro Quick Kill Lawn Insect Killer Granules Bifenthrin 0.1% Granules: 10 lbs/ 8300 sq ft
Amdro Kills Ants & Spiders Granules Bifenthrin 0.1% Granules: 3lbs/ 2500 sq ft
Anderson’s Duocide Insect Control Granules Bifenthrin 0.058%

Carbaryl 2.3%

40 lb bag
4 – 8 lb/ 1000 sq ft
Ortho Bug-B-Gon Insect Killer for Lawns & Gardens Concentrate; & RTS Bifenthrin 0.3%

Zeta Cypermethrin 0.075%

Conc.: 32 fl oz
RTS: 32 fl oz
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscape Conc., & RTS Bifenthrin 0.3%

Zeta Cypermethrin 0.075%

Conc.: 32 fl oz
RTS: 32 fl oz
Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer Concentrate; & RTS Zeta Cypermethrin 0.35% Conc.; 32 fl oz

RTS: 32 fl oz/ 4267 sq ft

Gordon’s Bug-No-More Lawn & Garden Insect Control Concentrate Zeta Cypermethrin 0.35% Conc.; 40 fl oz
Bayer BioAdvanced Vegetable & Garden Insect Spray Concentrate; & RTS Beta- Cyfluthrin 0.75% Conc.: 32 fl oz
RTS: 32 fl oz for 5333 sq ft
Martin’s Cyonara 9.7 Insecticide Concentrate Lambda-Cyhalothrin 9.7% 32 fl oz
Martin’s Cyonara Lawn & Garden RTS; & Concentrate Lambda-Cyhalothrin
0.5%
RTS: 32 fl oz for 16k sq ft
Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray Concentrate RTS Lambda-Cyhalothrin
0.16%
RTS: 32 fl oz for 5120 sq ft
Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Gamma-Cyhalothrin
0.08%
Conc.: 32 fl oz
RTS: 32 fl oz /5k sq ft
Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer For Lawns Granules Gamma-Cyhalothrin
0.05%
Granules:
1, 10, & 20 lb.
20 lbs for 25k
Hi-Yield 38 Plus Turf, Termite & Ornamental Insect Control Concentrate Permethrin 38% Conc.: 8, 16, 32, & 128 fl oz
Southern Ag Permetrol Lawn Insecticide Concentrate Permethrin 10% Conc.: 8 & 16 fl oz
Hi-Yield Indoor/Outdoor Broad Use Insecticide Concentrate Permethrin 10% Conc.: 8, 16, & 32 fl oz
Hi-Yield Lawn, Garden, Pet & Livestock Insect Control Concentrate (For use on Bermuda, Fescue & St Augustine lawns only) Permethrin 10% Conc.: 16 & 32 fl oz
Bonide Eight Insect Control, Vegetable Fruit & Flower Concentrate Permethrin 2.5% Conc.: 16 & 32 fl oz
Bonide Eight Insect Control, Yard & Garden RTS Permethrin 2.5% RTS: 32 fl oz for 5000 sq ft
Hi-Yield Kill-A-Bug II Lawn Granules Permethrin 0.5% Granules: 2.25, 10, & 20 lb bags;
10 lb: 5k sq ft
Hi-Yield Turf Ranger Insect Control Granules Deltamethrin 0.1% Granules: 10 lb for 5k & 20 lbs for 10k
Neonicotinoid Insecticides
Bonide Systemic Insect Spray with Systemaxx RTS Imidacloprid 1.47% RTS: 32 fl oz
Bayer BioAdvanced Season Long Grub Control RTS Imidacloprid 1.47% RTS: 32 fl oz for
5k sq ft
Hi-Yield Systemic Insect Spray Concentrate;

& RTS

Imidacloprid 1.47% RTS: 32 fl oz for 3560 sq ft
Conc..: 16 fl oz
Bonide Dura Turf Insect & Grub Control Granules Imidacloprid 0.5% Granules: 6 lbs for 5k sq ft; & 18 lbs
Southern Ag Grubs Away Imidacloprid 0.5G Imidacloprid 0.5% Granules: 9 & 30 lb bags; 1.4 to 1.8 lbs/1k sq ft
Hi-Yield Grub Free Zone III Imidacloprid 0.5% Granules: 10 lbs for 7k sq ft
Bayer Advanced Season Long Grub Control Plus Turf Revitalizer Granules Imidacloprid 0.25% & 6-0-1 fertilizer Granules: 12 & 24 lb bags
Hi-Yield Grub Free Zone II Imidacloprid 0.2% Granules: 15 & 30 lbs; 15 lbs for 5k sq ft
Gordon’s Grub No More Granules Imidacloprid 0.2% Granules: 30 lbs for 10k sq ft
Caravan G Thiamethoxam 0.22 % & Azoxystrobin 0.31% Granules: 30 lbs for 10, 700 sq ft
Organophosphate Insecticides
Bayer BioAdvanced 24 Hour Grub Killer Plus
(a contact grub killer)
Trichlorfon 9.3%
(same a.i. as Dylox)
Granules: 10 lbs for 5000; & 20 lbs for 10k sq ft
Bayer Dylox 6.2 Granular Insecticide
(a contact grub killer)
Trichlorfon 6.2% Granules: 30 lb for 10k sq ft
Pyrethroid & Neonicotinoid Insecticide Combinations
Bayer BioAdvanced Complete Insect Killer Concentrate; & RTS Imidacloprid 0.72%
Beta-cyfluthrin 0.36%
Conc.: 40 fl oz
RTS: 32 fl oz for 5334 sq ft
Bayer Allectus G Imidacloprid 0.20%
Bifenthrin 0.16%
Granules: 2.9 lbs per 1000 sq ft
Bayer BioAdvanced Complete Insect Killer Granules Imidacloprid 0.15%
Beta-cyfluthrin 0.05%
Granules: 10 lb (for 5 – 10k sq ft); & 20 lb
Bonide DuraTurf Insect & Grub Control Lambda-Cyhalothrin 0.1%
Imidacloprid 0.5%
Granules: 6lbs for 7500 sq ft
Aloft LC G Clothianidin 0.250%
Bifenthrin 0.125%
Granules: 3.6 lbs per 1000 sq ft
Mole Cricket Baits
Advion Insect Granules Indoxacarb 0.22% 1.15 – 4.6 lb/1k
25 lb bag
Southern Ag Mole Cricket Bait Carbaryl 5% 3.6 lb bag; Use 1 lb/1100 -1300 sq ft
RTS = Ready to Spray (hose-end, pre-mixed bottles)
Notes: Water the lawn the day before application of either insecticides or baits. Then make applications of products late in the day. Water in all liquid & granular insecticide products, but do not water in baits.
Many of the above products may be purchased at feed & seed stores or landscaper supply stores, and some brands, such as Bayer Advanced, Ortho, & Spectracide, may be found at big box stores.

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