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If a mole and cricket could mate, what would be the end result? Well, a mole cricket, of course! Strangely enough, mole crickets actually do exist, but not because of an interspecies love affair; mole crickets are a part of the insect family Gryllotalpidae in the order of Orthoptera—along with grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets.
In Florida and Georgia, our team at McCall encounters three primary species of mole crickets, all of which are nocturnal and most active during the fall months:
Short-winged mole cricket
Southern mole cricket
Tawny mole cricket
While these bugs are generally harmless to humans, they can cause severe damage to your lawn by burrowing into the ground, creating dirt mounds and transport tunnels, and killing your turfgrass.
With cylindrical bodies, beady eyes, and shovel-like forelimbs, mole crickets feature a mole-like appearance, especially towards their enlarged heads. But this likeness to moles is often missed due to the fact that mole crickets are usually only about 1.5 inches long. If you ever catch one of these critters in your yard, make sure to examine it closely to truly appreciate how much it looks like a mole!
Not only do mole crickets look like moles, but they also act like moles. They bore under the soil and often create raised mounds where they are tunneling. If you have these pests in your yard, you should also see entry and exit holes near any mound you may find.
The most distinct visual clue that you have mole crickets will be patches of dead grass. This is why the mole cricket is considered a lawn pest! When these strange, half-mole, half-cricket bugs burrow under your lawn, they feed on the roots of your turfgrass as they go. Mole crickets are also particularly fond of the larvae of ground insects and earthworms.
Mole crickets have the word "cricket" in their name, and for a seemingly obvious reason: Their hind legs look exactly like a cricket’s legs. But, that cricket appearance is misleading for many species of mole cricket, as their back legs aren’t made for jumping!
If you come across one of these creatures in your yard, they aren't going to jump away from you as a normal cricket would. Instead, they will run across the ground or burrow into the soil to getaway.
How To Spot A Mole Cricket
If you're determined to see a mole cricket in your yard, here are two ways to do it:
At nightfall, grab a flashlight and go hunting in your yard. For best results, do this after heavy rainfall, as mole crickets will be foraging for fresh leaves and stems.
While mole crickets don't jump like other crickets, they do chirp. More specifically, male mole crickets chirp. But they don't just chirp for fun; it’s a mating call that lures females to them. For this reason, you are not likely to find male mole crickets crawling around in your yard. If you catch one above ground during a nighttime hunt, it is most likely going to be female.
If you don't want to wait for it to rain—and you don't want to run around in the dark—you can fill a bucket with water and add in a little bit of dish soap. Take that bucket out into your yard where you suspect mole crickets and pour the soapy water on top of the site. Wait about an hour and check the mound or tunnels. If mole crickets have infested your yard, they will be flushed out of their holes and run to the surface for oxygen.
It’s important to understand that while mole crickets are a destructive pest to have in your yard, they can also lure other unwanted pests. There are many nuisance animals that love to dine on mole crickets, including:
If raccoons or skunks are feeding on mole crickets in your yard, they could leave behind ticks and fleas—making your pest problems even worse!
If mole crickets are wreaking havoc on your lawn, you don't have to put up with them for long. Reach out to McCall Service today to get your pest control and lawn care services from one place. At McCall, we'll get them all!