Mole Crickets

Order/Family: Orthoptera/Gryllotalpidae

Description:

  • Adults are torpedo-shaped, 1- to 1/2-inches long, and are light brown.
  • In all but the short-winged mole cricket, the front pair of wings are shorter and folded over the abdomen; the second pair of wings are membranous and extend beyond the end of the abdomen. The wings of the short-winged mole cricket are shorter than the first thoracic segment (prothorax).
  • The front pair of legs are short and modified for digging in the soil and the species are most easily distinguished by their tibial dactyls (digging claws):
  • Tawny mole cricket – the v-shaped space between the two dactyls is narrower than their width.
  • Southern mole cricket – the u-shaped space between the two dactyls approximates their width.
  • Short-winged mole cricket – there is a space between the two dactyls which split at the base.
  • Northern mole cricket – for tibial dactyls.

 

Biology and Habits:

  • Females lay batches of 25 to 60 eggs in chambers several inches to a foot beneath the soil surface.
  • Typically,the first instar nymphs emerge within approximately two weeks and continue to develop throughout the summer and fall, emerging in the spring as adults.
  • The most significant turf damaging species feed on the stems, leaves, and particularly grass roots as they burrow through the soil.
  • Development is favored by temperatures above 70° F and high soil moisture.
  • Depending on the species mole crickets overwinter in ground burrows as adults or mature nymphs.
  • Adults swarm to mate in the spring and are attracted to light.
  • There is one generation per year.

 

Turf Attacked:

  • Centipede, Kentucky bluegrass, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia.

 

Damage:

  • Mole crickets damage turf grasses by feeding on the stems, leaves, and particularly the roots.
  • Their burrowing loosens the soil around the roots, uprooting the plant or causing the roots to dry out.