BOTH! Well, not really. Today's topic is the Mole Cricket. I was outside working today and I was emptying some dead pots. I was surprised when a Mole Cricket came out of one of them. It was only a three gallon pot and it was a big one. I wanted to know more about these nasty little creatures.
There are three species of mole crickets in the southeastern U.S.and they are considered a serious plant pest.
Tawny Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus vicinus)
Southern Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus borellii)
Shortwinged Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus abbreviatus)
Mole crickets can damage plants by feeding at night on above ground foliage or stem tissue and below ground on roots and tubers. The list of plants they damage is very extensive, Commonly injured plants include tomato, strawberry, beet, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrot, cauliflower, collard, eggplant, kale, lettuce, onion, pepper, potato, spinach, sweet potato, turnip, chufa, peanut, sugar cane, tobacco, such flowers as coleus, chrysanthemum, and gypsophila, as well as weeds such as pigweed. I will bet you grow at least one or two of these. As they tunnel through the soil, they uproot plants, which dry out and die. I guess you could say they help a little by aerating your soil, but the damage they inflict completely negates the positive.
Mole crickets spend the winter in deep burrows in the soil. Once the soil warms up and the night temperatures maintain about 60 degrees they start to become active, usually in March and April. .
Female mole crickets lay eggs in chambers beneath the soil surface in spring and early summer. The eggs begin hatching during May and early June. Nymphs feed and develop during the summer. There is one generation a year, although egg laying and hatching may be spread out over several weeks.
To determine if you have Mole Crickets, use a soap drench. Mix 2 tablespoons of any lemon scented liquid dish soap in 1 gallon of water. Pour the soapy water onto 1 to 2 square feet of your lawn. Any mole crickets present will surface in a few minutes. After the test, water the area very well to avoid scorching the turf in the sun.
Mole Crickets do have some natural enemies. Among them are toads and some lizards, birds and armadillos. They are usually not very effective though.
To control them use one of the many products on the market. Make sure you read the labels and use only what is labeled for Mole Crickets.