Mole Cricket Bite: Is It Poisonous? Debunking Myths & Facts

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.

Life Cycle

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

Habitat

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

Diet

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:

Pros:

  • Contribute to natural ecosystem balance
  • Help control other insect populations

Cons:

  • Damage lawns and turfgrass
  • Can harm agricultural crops

Comparison of mole cricket species:

Species Region Primary Habitat Diet
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

Damage Comparison

Damage Type Lawns Gardens
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

Natural Remedies

  • 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.

Chemical Pesticides

  • Insecticides: There are chemical options available to reduce mole cricket populations. Apply these pesticides as a last resort when other methods prove ineffective.

Pros

  • Effective in eradicating mole crickets
  • Provides quicker results

Cons

  • Potential harm to beneficial insects
  • Human health and environmental concerns
  • Possibility of mole crickets developing resistance

General Steps for Mole Cricket Prevention and Control:

  1. Inspect for mole cricket activity
  2. Utilize natural remedies if possible
  3. Apply chemical pesticides if necessary
  4. 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

Closing Remark:

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

Immediate Steps

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
  • Blisters
  • 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.

Footnotes

  1. https://craven.ces.ncsu.edu/2021/03/are-you-sure-thats-mole-cricket-damage/ 2
  2. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/mole-cricket-in-turf
  3. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN1021
  4. https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/mole-cricket-management-in-turfgrass/
  5. https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/mole-crickets/

Reader Emails

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?
Hi there,
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!
Thanks,
Wesley

Hi Wesley,
This is a Mole Cricket, and though they live underground, some species can fly quite well.

Letter 2 – Mole Cricket

 

Mole Cricket
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.  🙂
Betty

Letter 3 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject: Just seen three of these????
Location: Louisiana
November 22, 2014 9:27 pm
I live in Louisiana and have never seen these before and have seen 3 tonite
Signature: Tara

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Hi Tara,
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.
Signature: James

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Mole Cricket

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
Location: Kentucky
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

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

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

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Kent,
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
Hi Bugman!
We found this bug in one of retail stores. It was about 2-3 inches long. It has very weird front feet.
Signature: Jessica

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Jessica,
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
Hello,
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
Date: 8/29/16
Location: Lake City Missouri
Thank you!
Ben
Signature: However you choose

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Ben,
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!
Signature: Kate

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Kate,
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.

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

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?
Signature: Eek

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Eek,
This is a Mole Cricket, and you are absolutely correct that the front legs are for digging.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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4 thoughts on “Mole Cricket Bite: Is It Poisonous? Debunking Myths & Facts”

  1. These guys can make a mess of a nice lawn so as kids, whenever mum was doing the washing, dad would get us to pour soapy water into their burrows and when they surfaced we would feed them to our chickens. Neat lawn, happy chickens, a win win, except for the crickets that is.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Trevor. We have seen a sharp drop in North American identification requests now that winter is approaching, but this year our South African identification requests are coming in with greater frequency than those from Australia.

      Reply

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