Lawn Care Guide

Identifying Lawn Damage from Mole Crickets

Mole Crickets

These large, mobile insects can cause a lot of damage to your yard and lawn in virtually every type of warm season grass. By burrowing just below the soil surface, mole crickets dislodge plants and sprigs, which dry out and quickly die.

Of the four varieties of mole crickets found in southern areas, only two are considered damaging: the Southern mole cricket and what is known as the Puerto Rican mole cricket (this variety is not really from Puerto Rico). The Southern variety is far more numerous.

They Really Dig Your Lawn

Just one mole cricket can damage several square feet of turf grass in a single night. They feed on the roots of grass and on a number of other organic materials they find in the soil. Subsurface tunnels are very evident, especially in newly seeded or sprigged turf areas. Areas of soil will be thrown up above the turf. These areas scalp easily when mowed. The Southern mole cricket is active except during periods of extreme cold. When exposed, these guys immediately burrow into the soil. The Puerto Rican mole cricket, on the other hand, reacts very differently. Much less agitated at being discovered, they’ll often lie still and play possum.

Even though the nymphs are active night feeders from the time they hatch, heaviest lawn damage does not appear until the adults are nearly too large to respond to control.

Short Life But Full Of Action

The mole cricket has a one year life cycle which begins with the female laying an average of 20 eggs in earthen cells. She places up to 5 eggs into each of these cells. Incubation of the eggs takes from 20 to 35 days, depending on the weather. Eggs hatch faster in warmer weather. The young are called nymphs and are simply smaller versions of the adults. The young go through as many as 8 or 10 transitions (or instars) as they mature, but feed and cause damage the whole time.

You’ll Know You’ve Got ’em, But Which Variety?

It is usually easy to identify mole cricket presence from the visible damage they cause. The insects are about 1 1/2” long with short, strong forelegs and feet that look like shovels. The head and thorax area looks a lot like that of a crayfish. The bodies are covered with fine, velvety hairs. The Southern mole cricket is greenish-gray, while the Puerto Rican variety ranges from cream colored to dark brown.

Remember:

  • Mole crickets feed on and damage every type of warm season grass.
  • A major indication is the presence of raised mounds of soil.
  • Mole crickets complete their life cycle in one season.
  • If mole crickets are a problem, contact your neighborhood Spring-Green.

Total lawn care services from Spring-Green can handle any of your lawn insect problems.

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