The Eastern and Southern part of the United States have a unique pest that terrorizes yards and turfs. This pest burrows through the earth and eats roots in its path. On cool spring nights, you may have heard these small insects, calling out to one another. They are called mole crickets. These crickets do millions of dollars of damage every year. What do mole crickets eat? The food habits of prairie mole crickets are unknown. They have found some roots and some insect parts in the stomachs of prairie mole crickets.
The mole crickets common to Oklahoma are the northern mole cricket and the prairie mole cricket. Because of dwindling grassland habitats, the prairie mole cricket was thought to be extinct. But now, they are finding more of these crickets in the wild. The northern mole cricket is abundant not only in Oklahoma, but also in most of the east. These critters love to burrow through grass roots and eat them.
WHY ARE THEY CALLED MOLE CRICKETS?
These crickets burrow just under the soil. To do this, they have two front “legs” that are specially designed for digging. Because of the fact that they dig through the soil, and have front legs that resemble that of a mole, they have been so aptly named. The prairie mole cricket is unique in that the males create a horn shaped burrow, so that they can better call to their female counterparts.
This burrow amplifies the sound of their mating call. This is important, because male mole crickets can’t fly. So by making the call louder, the females can hear from farther away. Once they meet, they will mate, and around two weeks later, the female will lay her eggs. A female can produce about a hundred offspring before completing her reproductive cycle. Once these insects are done reproducing, they will die. Contact your Tulsa Pest Control company for help.
WHERE DO MOLE CRICKETS COME FROM?
Mole crickets are an invasive species. These crickets were not seen in the United States until sometime in the early 1900’s. They originated from South America, but were first seen here in Florida and Georgia. These crickets spread fairly quickly throughout the east coast and the midwest.
Once these insects found their way to our shores, they spread very quickly. In order to control their numbers, entomologists in Florida introduced biological controls. A biological control is when we introduce a predator to an invasive species, to control its population. For the mole cricket, it was the Steinernema scapterisci and the Larra Wasp. The Larra Wasp lays an egg on the cricket that feeds off of it until the cricket dies. Steinernema scapterisci is a nematode, or microscopic insect parasite, that uses the mole cricket as a host until it kills it. Ask your Oklahoma Exterminator for other options.
ARE MOLE CRICKETS HARMFUL?
Mole crickets burrow just under the soil. They burrow in the exact depth that turf grass run most of its roots. This makes tunnels and air pockets that separate the roots from the soil, starving out the grass. Some species of mole cricket actually eat the roots, further damaging this turf grass. This can lead to dying and dead patches of grass in your yard.
To tell if you have an issue with mole crickets, take around two gallons of soapy water and spread it on the ground. The mole crickets will have to come to the surface in two to three minutes for air. You can also inspect the yard for tunnels under the dirt. This can also tell you how long they have been there. They start as small nymphs and grow. The larger and older the cricket, the larger the tunnels will be.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF MOLE CRICKETS?
For control of mole crickets, most Oklahoma Pest Control companies will recommend a spring, summer, and fall treatment. In the spring, all the mole crickets will be adults that are awakening from their overwintering. The females will be looking for a place to start laying eggs. I would be optimal to spray before they lay eggs, since the eggs are not effected by pesticides. But because of differing climates, weather patterns and in turn, different times that mole crickets awake from overwintering, it is almost impossible to estimate that time. But a treatment during this time will put a dent in their populations.
A treatment in summer is an attempt to kill off both adults and recent hatchlings. By late June, early July, all eggs will have hatched. Nymphs are smaller and stay closer to the surface than adults, so the sooner after hatching that you treat, they better the dance that you kill off the nymphs before they become a pest. Fall treatments are mostly to target adults preparing to overwinter. There is no better or worse time for this treatment. Spot treatments are a good option this time of year.
If you are having an issue with mole crickets, feel free to contact a Tulsa Exterminator. Here at TermMax Pest Control, we can give you a free estimate, and take care of your issue quickly and effortlessly. We’re here to help!