Mole Crickets Life Cycle: A Fascinating Journey Uncovered

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Mole crickets are unique insects that spend most of their lives underground, using their modified front legs to tunnel through the soil. Commonly found in Florida and the southeastern U.S., these critters can have quite a significant impact on the turfgrass where they reside due to their burrowing habits. Knowledge of their life cycle is essential for understanding their behavior and implementing effective control strategies.

In general, the life cycle of mole crickets consists of egg-laying, hatching, and the growth of nymphs into adults. Adult mole crickets typically lay their eggs in underground cells during the spring, and these eggs hatch in two to four weeks, depending on the weather. As the nymphs emerge, they feed and grow throughout the summer, ultimately maturing into adults in late fall or winter.

Life Cycle of Mole Crickets

Eggs and Nymphs

Mole crickets start their life cycle as eggs, which are laid by females in spring within underground cells in the soil. The eggs hatch in about 2 to 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions, and proceed to the nymph stage.

Nymphs are the immature stage of mole crickets. They feed and develop throughout the summer, tunneling through the soil in search for food. As they grow, nymphs go through a process called molting, shedding their exoskeleton to accommodate their increasing size.

Adult Mole Crickets

By late fall or winter, nymphs mature into adult mole crickets. Adult mole crickets have a similar behavior to nymphs, but they are more robust and can fly. Examples of mole cricket species include the tawny mole cricket and the southern mole cricket, with the former being slightly larger and more robust.

Mole Cricket Species Size Robustness
Tawny Mole Cricket Approximately 1.25 inches long, 0.4 inches wide More robust
Southern Mole Cricket Approximately 1.25 inches long, 0.4 inches wide Less robust

Adult mole crickets mate and continue the life cycle, with females laying more eggs once soil temperature is suitable.

Overwintering

During winter, mole crickets overwinter deep in the soil but come to the surface to feed during warm periods. Overwintering ensures the survival of mole crickets during colder months, allowing them to continue their life cycle once temperatures become more favorable in spring. The majority of mole cricket species, such as southern and tawny mole crickets, have one generation per year.

In summary:

  • Mole crickets start as eggs laid in spring
  • Nymphs develop and feed throughout summer
  • Adult mole crickets emerge in late fall or winter
  • Overwintering occurs during winter months
  • Majority of species have one generation per year

Prevalent Mole Cricket Species

Tawny Mole Cricket

The Tawny Mole Cricket is a common pest species.

  • Light brown color
  • Can damage turfgrass

Southern Mole Cricket

Another pest species is the Southern Mole Cricket.

  • Similar appearance to Tawny Mole Cricket
  • Also damages turfgrass

Shortwinged Mole Cricket

The Shortwinged Mole Cricket is a less common species.

  • Smaller wings
  • Less significant as a pest

Northern Mole Cricket

Neocurtilla hexadactyla is the scientific name for the Northern Mole Cricket.

  • Darker markings on thorax
  • Clumsy but powerful flyer

Comparison of Mole Cricket Species:

Species Pest Status Appearance Flight Capability
Tawny Mole Cricket Pest Light brown, spade-like feet Yes
Southern Mole Cricket Pest Similar to Tawny, large eyes Yes
Shortwinged Mole Cricket Less common pest Smaller wings Limited
Northern Mole Cricket Non-pest Darker markings on thorax, large eyes Clumsy but powerful

Impact on Lawns and Plants

Damage to Lawns

Mole crickets can cause significant damage to lawns due to their burrowing habits. Their modified front legs allow them to tunnel through soil, creating a network of tunnels that can weaken the grass roots and cause dying grass or dead patches. This problem is especially prevalent in the southeastern U.S., where mole crickets are common turfgrass pests, affecting various grass types such as Bermuda grass and Bahia grass.

Affect on Vegetables and Pastures

Mole crickets can also impact vegetables and pastures. Their burrowing can disturb germinating seeds and damage the roots or shoots of plants. In addition, their nocturnal feeding habits can lead to reduced growth and productivity. Mole crickets are considered pests in some golf courses, sod farms, and even municipal properties, according to NC State University.

Mole Cricket Damage Compared to Other Lawn Pests:

Pest Damage Type Control Method
Mole Cricket Burrowing, root damage Nematodes, pesticides, dish soap
Grasshoppers Defoliation Pest control products, natural predators
Locusts Defoliation Pest control products, barriers

Some suggested control methods for mole crickets include:

  • Using nematodes
  • Applying dish soap
  • Monitoring infestations

Note: Always consult a professional for pest control, as improper use of pesticides can be harmful to the environment and non-target species.

Mole crickets are unique pests with a range of effects on lawns, vegetables, and pastures. By learning to identify and control their infestations, we can help maintain healthy and vibrant landscapes.

Control Measures

Biological Control

One method of managing mole crickets is using biological control agents like nematodes and parasitic wasps.

  • Nematodes: Steinernema scapterisci, a species of entomopathogenic nematodes, is an effective parasite against mole crickets[^1^].
  • Parasitic Wasps: Larra bicolor wasps are natural predators of mole crickets, laying eggs on their bodies[^2^].

Chemical Control

Several insecticides are available for mole cricket control. A mix of ¾ oz. liquid dishwashing soap in 1 gallon of water can be poured over suspected mole cricket activity areas to force them to surface. Note that not all chemicals are safe; refer to manufacturers’ guidelines.

Monitoring and Prevention

Regular monitoring can interrupt the mole cricket life cycle, as targeting nymphs and adults early in the spring can prevent egg-laying[^3^]. Lawn management practices are also crucial; healthy, well-maintained turf can deter mole crickets from establishing.

Pros and Cons

Method Pros Cons
Biological Natural; no harmful chemicals Takes time; not always as effective
Chemical Effective; quicker results Can be harmful to non-target organisms
Monitoring Preventative; reduces population Requires regular attention and resources

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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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Deb,
    If you spray every unidentified bug you come into contact with in Florida, you better buy stock in bug spray! Just find out what cock roaches look like and you’ll be okay.

    Reply
  • Deb,
    If you spray every unidentified bug you come into contact with in Florida, you better buy stock in bug spray! Just find out what cock roaches look like and you’ll be okay.

    Reply
  • Kill first, ask questions later. There is a lesson to be learned here……including, but not limited to insects.

    Reply
    • hmmmmmm. Our editorial staff does not know what to make of your comment. We are hoping you are being facetious.

      Reply
  • Hi,
    I don’t see new posts on the first page, the last one is the snowfly.
    On that post, I found the links to the new ones.

    Reply
  • Hi,
    I don’t see new posts on the first page, the last one is the snowfly.
    On that post, I found the links to the new ones.

    Reply
  • We found a huge mole cricket – thought it was a mini scorpion! We are in Melbourne, Australia going from Autumn into Winter and he was walking across the garage. Just an FYI.

    Reply

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