Mole crickets are curious insects that many people encounter in their gardens and lawns. They have a unique appearance, with a combination of cricket and mole features, which makes them efficient diggers and tunnellers. A common question that arises when dealing with mole crickets is whether their bite is poisonous or harmful to humans.
In terms of toxicity, it is crucial to clarify that mole cricket bites are not poisonous. However, they can be painful and cause discomfort to those who accidentally disturb these creatures. As with any insect bite, it’s essential to keep the affected area clean to avoid potential infections.
Mole crickets play an essential role in maintaining the ecological balance, even though they can cause damage to lawns and grasses. Therefore, using responsible control measures when dealing with these insects is vital, both for human safety and maintaining a thriving ecosystem.
Mole Cricket Bite: Is It Poisonous?
Danger to Humans
Mole crickets are not known to be dangerous to humans. They primarily feed on plant roots and insects. Although they have jaws to bite, they rarely, if ever, bite humans. Their primary concern is causing damage to turfgrass and other vegetation, as seen in the cases of tawny and southern mole crickets along the southeastern coast of the United States.
Symptoms and Treatment
In the rare instance of a mole cricket bite, minimal symptoms may arise:
- Mild pain or discomfort
- Temporary swelling or redness
No specific treatment is needed for a mole cricket bite, as it is neither poisonous nor venomous. Properly cleaning the affected area with soap and water is sufficient to prevent infection. If symptoms worsen or persist, it is advisable to consult a medical professional.
In summary, mole cricket bites pose little risk to humans. They are not poisonous or venomous creatures. Their primary concern is the damage they cause to plants, particularly turfgrass, making them a nuisance for gardeners, homeowners, and turfgrass managers.
Mole Cricket Facts and Identification
Types of Mole Crickets
There are various types of mole crickets, but the most common species found in the southeastern U.S include the southern mole cricket, tawny mole cricket, and short-winged mole cricket. They are mostly found in states like southern Florida, southern Georgia, and Louisiana12.
Mole crickets have a life cycle consisting of adults and nymphs. The nymph stage is when they molt and grow, whereas the adult stage is their final form3. The life cycle plays a significant role in understanding their behavior and impact on lawns and soil.
Features of mole cricket’s life cycle:
- Nymphs hatch from eggs
- Nymphs undergo multiple molts
- Adults mate and lay eggs
These insects prefer living in soil and are commonly found in lawns, especially in bermudagrass4. They create slightly raised, erratic tunnels as they burrow through the ground1. Mole cricket tunnels can cause damage to lawns and grass.
Examples of habitats:
- Golf courses
- Home lawns
- Municipal and commercial properties
- Sod farms
Mole crickets primarily feed on other insects and plant roots. Their diet and tunneling behavior can lead to damage in lawns and agricultural areas5. They also form part of the food chain, as they are preyed upon by various predators such as raccoons.
Pros and cons of mole cricket’s diet:
- Contribute to natural ecosystem balance
- Help control other insect populations
- Damage lawns and turfgrass
- Can harm agricultural crops
Comparison of mole cricket species:
|Southern Mole Cricket||Southeastern U.S (Florida, Georgia)||Lawns||Insects, roots|
|Tawny Mole Cricket||Southeastern U.S (Florida, Georgia, Louisiana)||Lawns, Bermudagrass||Insects, roots|
|Short-Winged Mole Cricket||Limited regions in Southeastern U.S||Lawns||Insects, roots|
Damage Caused by Mole Crickets
Impact on Lawns
Mole cricket damage is mainly mechanical since they tunnel through the soil near the surface. They sever the roots and uproot the grass, causing visible damage to lawns. Especially, tawny and southern mole crickets are known to be pests that have a significant impact on turfgrass management. For example:
- Unsightly tunnels on the lawn
- Uprooted grass and dying patches
Impact on Gardens
Mole crickets can also affect gardens since they’re attracted to light soils, such as sandy soils. They damage plants by uprooting or disrupting the roots. Examples include:
- Weakened plant growth
- Wilting or dying plants
|Unsightly tunnels||Yes||Less common|
|Uprooted plants||Grass & turf||Various plants|
|Weakened growth||Due to root damage||Due to root damage|
Although mole cricket bites are not poisonous, the damage they cause to lawns and gardens can be quite noticeable and requires attention to minimize further issues. Regular monitoring and appropriate pest control methods can help keep them in check.
Prevention and Control
- Soapy water: A mixture of soap and water can be utilized as a safe and effective method to flush out mole crickets. Pour the solution over suspected infested areas and observe the cricket’s emergence:
| Ingredient | Quantity | | ----------------- | ------------ | | Liquid dish soap | 1.5 tbsp | | Water | 1 gallon |
- Predators: Introducing natural enemies such as parasitic worms, mites or nematodes helps control mole cricket populations.
- Insecticides: There are chemical options available to reduce mole cricket populations. Apply these pesticides as a last resort when other methods prove ineffective.
- Effective in eradicating mole crickets
- Provides quicker results
- Potential harm to beneficial insects
- Human health and environmental concerns
- Possibility of mole crickets developing resistance
General Steps for Mole Cricket Prevention and Control:
- Inspect for mole cricket activity
- Utilize natural remedies if possible
- Apply chemical pesticides if necessary
- Monitor the area for further activity and re-treat if needed
Personal Protection Measures:
- Wear protective clothing such as gloves and long sleeves when handling pesticides
- Use insect repellent containing DEET or other effective alternatives to minimize the chances of cricket bites
In conclusion, mole cricket bites are not poisonous but could cause minor discomfort. By following the prevention and control measures mentioned above, mole cricket populations can be effectively and safely managed.
First Aid for Mole Cricket Bites
If you are bitten by a mole cricket, take the following steps:
- Clean the area with antiseptic wipes or soap and water
- Apply an ice pack or cold compress to reduce swelling and pain
- Use hydrocortisone cream or ointment to minimize itching and redness
- Cover the bite with bandages or gauze pads to protect it
Remember: Avoid scratching the bite, as this can worsen itching, redness, and the risk of infection.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Mole cricket bites are not poisonous and usually cause mild discomfort or irritation. However, seek medical attention if the following symptoms occur:
- Severe pain
- Rapid swelling
- Difficulty breathing
For pain relief, consider taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Preventing Mole Cricket Bites
Here are some tips to avoid mole cricket bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when in areas with mole crickets
- Check items like shoes and clothes for mole crickets before putting them on
- Store a flashlight, magnifying glass, and tweezers in your first-aid kit to help in case of bites
Remember, mole cricket bites are not life-threatening, but it’s essential to take precautions and know proper first aid treatment.
- https://craven.ces.ncsu.edu/2021/03/are-you-sure-thats-mole-cricket-damage/ ↩ ↩2
- https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/mole-cricket-in-turf ↩
- https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN1021 ↩
- https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/mole-cricket-management-in-turfgrass/ ↩
- https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/mole-crickets/ ↩
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Mole Cricket
what is this bug?
This guy (or one of his/her friends) have been scurrying around our back porch in Hattiesburg, Mississippi ever since Hurricane Katrina came through. I would guess the guy is two and a half to three inches long, somewhat fast on his feet and rather creepy. Any ideas? Great site by the way!
This is a Mole Cricket, and though they live underground, some species can fly quite well.
Letter 2 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Two bugs or one?
Location: Douglas County, GA
October 9, 2014 10:00 am
Early October here in Georgia, temperatures in the 70’s. I live in the western suburbs of Atlanta (Douglas County), in a neighborhood of half acre lawns and lots of hardwood trees. I had my dog out at lunchtime when I noticed a small creature scurrying across the street. Not more than an inch or so long, it froze when I approached and moved again when I backed off. I couldn’t make any sense of it then, and I still can’t, looking at the pictures I took. Is it something carrying something else perhaps?
Signature: B. Jones
Dear B. Jones,
Mole Crickets are one of our most common identification requests, and we received submissions from around the world. Many folks comment that Mole Crickets look like some crazy hybrid insect.
Thank you so much for taking the time to identify it for me! Going to read up on them right now. 🙂
Letter 3 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Just seen three of these????
November 22, 2014 9:27 pm
I live in Louisiana and have never seen these before and have seen 3 tonite
Mole Crickets are subterranean diggers that are also capable of flying. Perhaps the frequent sightings are related to heavy rains. Some subterranean species come to the surface if their burrows are flooded.
Letter 4 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Weird Crawfish Cricket thing in northern Alabama
Location: North Central Alabama
June 7, 2015 12:34 pm
Found this bug a year or two back and have been unable to find any info on it. Any help much appreciated.
I’ve seen mole crickets and it doesn’t look the same though. But thanks. I believe its some variation of one perhaps.
Hi again James,
This is certainly a Mole Cricket, and if it does not look like a Mole Cricket to you, perhaps you are confusing some other insect with Mole Crickets. See BugGuide for images of Mole Crickets in the family Gryllotalpidae. There are both winged and wingless species, and we are not proficient enough to be able to distinguish the various species, but your individual does look like this Scapteriscus vicinus that is pictured on BugGuide. We only post a small percentage of the identification requests we receive, though we do attempt to give short responses like our original reply to as many requests as possible. We have decided to post your request after all, but we are postdating it to go live in the future while we are away from the office.
You are right. The ones I was told were mole crickets look a little different. Thanks
Letter 5 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Suspicious bug
June 28, 2015 10:41 am
I was walking and saw this bug. It sprayed some kind of liquid and it got on my hand and it left a cool feeling to my hand. Should I be concerned?
Signature: Thank you much
This is a Mole Cricket and it is harmless, so you have no cause for concern.
Letter 6 – Mole Cricket
Subject: what is this bug?
Location: Morgan County, Tennessee
September 28, 2015 10:08 pm
We caught this inside a metal processing plant in East Tennessee. Can you identify it please?
Signature: Kent a. Warren
This is a Mole Cricket, a subterranean insect that uses its powerful front legs to dig beneath the surface. Some species fly and are attracted to lights.
Letter 7 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Very confused!!
Location: Kennesaw, GA
October 3, 2015 2:57 pm
We found this bug in one of retail stores. It was about 2-3 inches long. It has very weird front feet.
The reason this Mole Cricket has “very weird front feet” is that they are used to tunnel underground and they are perfectly adapted for subterranean burrowing. Some species of Mole Crickets can fly and they are attracted to lights, which probably explains why this individual was found in your retail store.
Letter 8 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Unidentified prehistoric beetle
Location: Lake City, Missouri, USA
August 29, 2016 2:07 pm
This thing came crawling up my co-workers desk today! Internet searches have yielded no information. Perhaps a sort of Bristle tail? Can you identify it?
Size: 1.5″ long
Location: Lake City Missouri
Signature: However you choose
Mole Crickets like yours, because of their large size and unusual appearance, are among our most common identification requests from all over the world. Though primarily subterranean, Mole Crickets are capable of flying.
Letter 9 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Strange bug in the sand
Location: Lebanon, CT
September 11, 2016 7:42 am
Hi!! We were by a lake in CT and my kids found this strange bug in the sand. It was almost two inches long and tried burrowing into the sand also it swam on top of the water. It has six legs and looked really scary. Thank for you help!
This is a Mole Cricket, a subterranean dweller that is also capable of flying. With all due respect, the image of it when you claim it “swam on top of the water” does not look like it was taken in the lake, but rather in a blue plastic bucket. All that means is that the Mole Cricket did not sink when dropped into water, and it means nothing regarding Mole Crickets and water. Mole Crickets are not aquatic insects, though we have several postings on our site of Mole Crickets in swimming pools, but again, we suspect they fell into the water, or were attracted to pool lights at night, and not that they actively seek water for swimming. We do have another account of a Mole Cricket swimming in a lake, so we may be wrong in presuming they do not seek out water.
Letter 10 – Mole Cricket
Subject: Insect with front “paws”
Location: North America – east coast
November 8, 2016 11:43 am
I found this insect in my garage and tried searching google but I don’t know
What it is. It’s front feet almost look like paws maybe for digging?
This is a Mole Cricket, and you are absolutely correct that the front legs are for digging.