Mole crickets, a house cricket that is quite common in many outdoor homes, are so-called because they look like moles, live underground and feed on small insects, plant roots, tubers, vegetables, underground stems of grasses and earthworms found in the soil.
They reach a length of nearly 1 1/2 inches and are dull brown. The front legs are shovel-like and modified for digging.
Damage to Lawns Caused By Mole Crickets
Mole crickets can cause lawn damage in two ways. First, direct damage is caused by the mole crickets chewing on grassroots
Secondly, and probably more serious, is the damage caused by the burrows or tunnels. Mole crickets loosen the soil around the root system, causing the roots to dry out. It tears plants from their growing places, destroys roots, and pushes mounds of soil above the turf.
A single mole cricket may claw and tunnel through more than a dozen feet of lawn in a day.
The Mole Cricket Life Cycle
During early Spring, the female hollows out egg cells 3 to 10 inches deep into the soil. During March, they become active and feed.
By May or June, they are mature and large numbers of adults leave the soil to mate. Feeding activity reaches a peak when temperatures are warm and moisture from rains or irrigation is extremely high. In the late fall, they burrow deeper into the soil and form the overwintering cells.
Controlling Mole Crickets
In the old days, insects were normally treated almost exclusively by one form of insecticide or another. Many of these are now known to have been harmful to the wider environment, including humans and choices today are much more restricted.
There is also a huge range of green products that act to turn insects away rather than seeking to kill them. Many of these are entirely natural products and can be very effective, though not everyone will agree with that viewpoint.
One way to control mole crickets is to use chemical treatment. Started early enough, this would also be effective in preventing mole crickets from entering your lawn.
Maxforce Granules is an effective chemical that can be used. These are sprinkled around the yard before a rain.
Mole crickets feeding on these granules die immediately. However, this is effective only if the mole crickets have not yet established themselves in the yard. If there are mole cricket nests already, it would need regular chemical treatment of once a month for at least three months.
Orthene Turf WP and Talstar Granules are other popularly used products for controlling mole crickets. These chemicals are also available in concentrated liquid form, dust, wettable powders, and aerosol forms.
Acephate (Orthene), carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), diazinon (Diazinon, Spectracide), Malathion, or propoxur (Baygon) are other commonly used insecticides.
Some basic methods to control mole crickets from entering the house are: avoid the use of bright lights outside since crickets get attracted to bright lights; seal any cracks in windows, doors, floors, and walls. Always clean the surface areas and keep the house clean at all times.