There are many different species of mole crickets in the US. The two worst species are the tawny mole cricket and the southern mole cricket.Â
the southern mole cricket, the tawny mole cricket, the short-winged mole cricket, and the northern mole cricket (left to right in photo) -University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, MCRICKET KNOWLEDGEBASE
They are light brown and around 7-9cm long and have big eyes. They rarely come above soil level but adults will fly around at night to mate.
Mole Cricket Adult-The News Herald, (L) Mole Cricket (R)-photo University of Florida
They overwinter in the soil as adults and when soil temps rise to 60F they will become active. Adult fly and mating takes place. Females dig out chambers to lay their eggs in. They do this in the top 15cm of the soil. Egg laying is in the spring months. Nymphs hatch within three weeks and begin feeding. The adult develops short wings and also feeds on roots. Long thin tunnels in the soil is an indication that is your pest.
Mole cricket damage-University of Florida, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, MCRICKET KNOWLEDGEBASE
Diet and Damage
Mole crickets eat roots of grasses and most of the damage is caused from tunelling. They will also tunnel their way into your garden and eat the roots of any plants they come in contact with. If infestation is not too severe these can actually be beneficial in your lawn as they do aerate the soil from their tunneling. Some mole cricket larvae will eat each other.
1) Hot Pepper Soap Spray
Spray affected areas with a soapy, hot pepper spray daily. It is more effective if you spray right after a rainfall since the crickets are closer to the surface. This will cause them to surface and you can destroy them as well.
Nematodes on mole cricket-photo University of Florida
Bt sprayed on affected areas is also a very good method of control. (see above photo). Bt is live beneficial nematodes….they attack but only last 2 or 3 days so reaplication is needed if you have severe infestation.
3) Hand Pick
In the spring mole crickets come to the surface at night and are attracted to light. You can lure them to the light and destroy the adults. They are rarely seen during the day.
Fire ants, spiders, tiger beetles, red-eyed brazilian flies and some earwig species. There are some carnivorous birds that search out mole cricket larvae.
5) Encourage Healthy Root Systems
Do not overwater your lawn, cut it too short or let it get deficient in nitrogen and other minerals. The better root system you have the better chance you have of not attracting these pests. They tend to frequent poor lawn conditions.