Mole Crickets in Lawn: What to Do – Effective Solutions for a Healthy Yard

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Mole crickets can be a nuisance and cause damage to your lawn. These nocturnal insects are known for their tunneling activities, which can leave unsightly trails and harm the root systems of your grass. But don’t despair, as there are solutions available to help control mole cricket populations in your yard.

To determine whether mole crickets are present, try using a soapy water solution. By mixing 1.5 fluid ounces of liquid dish soap in 2 gallons of water and pouring it over 4 square feet of turf, you can flush these pests out of hiding University of Florida. Identifying the problem is the first step in taking control of your lawn health.

Effective mole cricket management can be achieved by using a combination of methods. Some options include timely insecticide applications, biological controls like nematodes, and altering your lawn care practices to make it less favorable for mole crickets to thrive NC State Extension Publications.

Understanding Mole Crickets

Types of Mole Crickets

There are several types of mole crickets that can cause damage to your lawn. The most common and damaging species are the tawny mole cricket (Neoscapteriscus vicinus), the southern mole cricket (Neoscapteriscus borellii), and the northern mole cricket (Neocurtilla hexadactyla).

  • The tawny mole cricket is an introduced pest in the United States and has a significant impact on turfgrass.
  • The southern mole cricket is also a non-native pest and can cause considerable damage.
  • The northern mole cricket is native to the US and usually causes little to no damage to lawns.
Type Native Damaging to Lawn
Tawny Mole Cricket No Yes
Southern Mole Cricket No Yes
Northern Mole Cricket Yes No

Life Cycle of Mole Crickets

Mole crickets have a life cycle consisting of egg, nymph, and adult stages. For example:

  1. Adult mole crickets lay eggs in their tunnels.
  2. Eggs hatch into nymphs, which go through several molts before becoming adults.
  3. Adult mole crickets emerge, mate, and lay eggs to continue the cycle.
  • Southern mole crickets complete their life cycle in about one year.
  • Northern and prairie mole crickets may take two to three years to mature.

Pros of Mole Crickets:

  • They can help aerate the soil in lawns.

Cons of Mole Crickets:

  • Damaging to turfgrass by tunneling and eating plant roots.
  • Difficult to control due to their nocturnal behavior.

In conclusion, understanding mole crickets, their types, and life cycles can help you identify potential damage and decide on appropriate control measures for your lawn.

Recognizing Mole Cricket Damage

Signs of Damage

Mole cricket damage is fairly easy to recognize. Signs include:

  • Disturbed soil
  • Tunneling in the soil
    /fwlink- Dying grass areas with dead grass in your lawn
  • Dislodged seedlings or plants

Specific signs of mole cricket damage include a network of tunnels near the soil surface, which can be seen as raised ridges. The tunneling damages grass roots and causes dying grass patches in lawns1.

Affected Grass Types

Mole crickets mainly affect warm-season grasses. Some examples are:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Bahiagrass

Warm-season grasses like Bermuda and Bahia are more susceptible to mole cricket damage because they thrive in the same warm, moist environments that mole crickets prefer2.

Affected Grass Type Susceptibility to Mole Cricket Damage
Bermuda grass High
Bahiagrass High
Cool-season grasses Low

Preventing and Controlling Mole Crickets

Monitoring and Detection

To effectively manage mole crickets, early detection is crucial. Monitor your lawn for signs of damage, such as raised tunnels or disturbed soil. You can use the soapy water drench method to flush out mole crickets: mix a few tablespoons of dish soap in a gallon of water and pour the solution over a small area of the lawn. If mole crickets are present, they will emerge to the surface within a few minutes (Clemson Information).

Non-Chemical Control Methods

Mole crickets can be managed using non-chemical methods:

  • Introduce natural predators like birds and certain insects to the lawn
  • Practice proper lawn care: mow regularly, water deeply but infrequently, and fertilize appropriately
  • Use cultural controls: select mole cricket-resistant turfgrass species or varieties

Chemical Control Methods

When non-chemical methods are not enough, consider using chemical controls:

Pros

  • Effective in reducing mole cricket populations
  • Targeted application reduces damage to turfgrass

Cons

  • May harm beneficial organisms
  • Resistance may develop over time
Chemical Method Example Effective Against
Insect Growth Regulators Halofenozide Tawny and southern mole crickets
Synthetic Pyrethroids Bifenthrin Tawny and southern mole crickets
Organophosphates Acephate Tawny and southern mole crickets

Remember to always read and follow label instructions when using chemical treatments. Implement an integrated pest management plan that combines monitoring, non-chemical methods, and chemical control methods for best results.

Footnotes

  1. Mole Crickets | Oklahoma State University – OSU Extension

  2. Mole Cricket | NC State Extension

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?
Captain Luz Johnson
Security Force
DWC / NASA / JSC

Hi Captain,
This is a Mole Cricket, an underground dweller.

Letter 2 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject: Whats this bug
Location: Lat. 31.055876-long. -97.460403
November 15, 2016 12:53 am
Hi my name is Ashley. I live in the central to area. Belton to. Salado creek is our backyard. Our back patio to the creek is about 90 yards. I found this little guy trying to slide input back door. I almost shut it all the way but in the corner of my eye I saw him limping along. He has been dead now for about 3 weeks to a month now. I put him in an aquarium. He also has wings and when I put him in the tank while he was still alive and he kept trying to burrow in the rocks. Like he didn’t like light. So if u could please tell me what bug this is it would really be appreciated.thanks
Signature: Sincerely ashley

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Ashley,
This is a Mole Cricket, and as their name implies, they are subterranean dwellers.  The rocky bottom of the aquarium prevented this individual from burrowing.

Letter 3 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject: Ugly Bug
Location: Houston, Texas
November 29, 2016 7:28 pm
I am glad this isn’t 6 feet long!!
Signature: Donathon Houston

Mole Cricket
Mole Cricket

Dear Donathon,
We agree that we would not want to run into a six foot long Mole Cricket, though there are many other lower beasts that we would not want to encounter at that size before the Mole Cricket.  Mole Crickets are subterranean dwellers found in many parts of the world, and they pose no threat to humans in their current size.

Letter 4 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  What kind of insect is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Iowa, near a pond, on ground near grass and Waters edge.
Date: 09/22/2017
Time: 06:12 PM EDT
Hi!
During a fieldtrip with my daughter’s 5th grade class, we found this bug. It stumped the conservationist, to say the least. None of us have ever seen one. Can you help us identify it!
It’s really end looks like a cricket, but it looked to be developing large wings, it has a head like an ant, and it’s front legs had what appeared to be tiny claws.
How you want your letter signed:  5th Grade class, Jordan Creek Elementary School, West Des Moines, IA

Mole Cricket

Dear 5th Grade class, Jordan Creek Elementary School,
You were on the right track when you observed it “looks like a cricket” because this is a Mole Cricket, a subterranean dweller that uses its front legs to quickly burrow in the dirt.  Though they live underground, Mole Crickets are capable of flying.  We get reports of Mole Crickets from many places around the world, including Australia, Iraq and South Africa as well as much of North America.

Mole Cricket

Letter 5 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  What’s that bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Plantation, FL
Date: 01/01/2018
Time: 09:48 PM EDT
Hello,
My husband found this bug a couple of days ago, never seen it before.
Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Lanny A

Mole Cricket

Dear Lanny,
Because they are subterranean dwellers, Mole Crickets are generally not observed until they dig to the surface.

Letter 6 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Large, strange bug!
Geographic location of the bug:  Northeast Florida
Date: 03/21/2018
Time: 03:12 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Letting my dog out and noticed this guy in a forgotten container. Looks like it has wings but doesn’t seem to be able to get out.  Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Dawn

Mole Cricket

Dear Dawn,
Because of their large size, unusual appearance and nearly global distribution range, we get identification requests for Mole Crickets from many different countries and continents.  Some Mole Crickets are capable of flight, but they are basically subterranean dwellers that dig beneath the surface of the ground.

Letter 7 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Creepiest bug ever!
Geographic location of the bug:  Westchester County, ny
Date: 05/20/2018
Time: 08:29 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this guy in our basement playroom.   It is 2-3” in length.  It’s front claws seem to be  clubs with  sharp looking finger like  protrusions.   Then two more sets  of legs.  The rear has 3 spikes. 1 longer than the other 2   Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Lucille

Mole Cricket

Dear Lucille,
We see from a subsequent email that you have already identified your Mole Cricket.

Letter 8 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Strange insect!
Geographic location of the bug:  Houston, TX
Date: 03/07/2019
Time: 05:10 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bug Man,
I can’t figure out what this insect is. It looks like a cross between a crawfish and a cricket! What could this be?
How you want your letter signed:  Casey

Mole Cricket

Dear Casey,
This is a Mole Cricket, a subterranean dweller that is rarely noticed unless it comes to the surface.  Some individuals are capable of flight.  We have gotten several reports in the past of Mole Crickets swimming, but they are not aquatic.

Letter 9 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Big type
Geographic location of the bug:  North Carolina
Date: 04/03/2019
Time: 01:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  You’re kinda creepy
How you want your letter signed:  What type of bug

Mole Cricket

Calling our editorial staff “kinda creepy” does not seem to be the best strategy for getting your Mole Cricket identified.

Letter 10 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Creepy cray fish looking wasp bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Logan ohio
Date: 10/08/2019
Time: 02:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this weird looking thing while hiking in Hawking Hills. What is this thing!?
How you want your letter signed:  Erin k

Mole Cricket

Dear Erin,
This is a Mole Cricket, a subterranean dweller that often surprises folks who encounter it on the surface.

Letter 11 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Bug with hands and fingers
Geographic location of the bug:  South Carolina
Date: 08/22/2021
Time: 10:15 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This creature was found in our garage on August 18th. Just walking around very slowly. It acted blind feeling around with its tiny hands. Like a mile.
How you want your letter signed:  Carrie Gomez

Mole Cricket

Dear Carrie,
This is a Mole Cricket, a subterranean dweller that uses its “handlike” front legs to dig tunnels underground.

Letter 12 – Mole Cricket

 

Subject:  Weirdest bug I have ever seen
Geographic location of the bug:  Roan Mountain, TN
Date: 10/11/2021
Time: 06:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have never seen anything like this.  The front legs are thick with little appendages on the end.
How you want your letter signed:  Kimberly Koontz

Mole Cricket

Dear Kimberly,
This is a subterranean Mole Cricket and it uses its front legs to very effectively tunnel underground.  They spend most of their lives underground, so though uncommon, they are not rare, and they are found all around the world, including Namibia, Iraq, South Africa and Australia as well as the continental United States.

Authors

  • 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.

    View all posts
Tags: Mole Crickets

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