So you have a mole cricket invasion

Sure, they look like a cricket on steroids. Yes, they have apparently wicked claws. But, other than appearance, they are not harmful to you. However, your yard is an entirely different matter. Join us as we discuss the best ways to rid your lawn of mole crickets.

Curbing your mole cricket invasion - Image courtesy of gb_packards
Cute, aren't they? - Image courtesy of gb_packards

First off, mole crickets are omnivores, feeding on worms, larvae, worms, and grass roots. Believe it or not, mole crickets are very common; however, being nocturnal, they spend most of the day underground in elaborate tunnels, generally only surfacing at night. They thrive on every continent except Antarctica, and they are even considered as tasty treats in areas of East Asia. Not that I expect you to be scouring your yard for a supplemental food source…But they can be eaten.

Now that we know a bit about the elusive mole cricket, let’s discuss how they can put a world of hurt on your yard. Their nightly feeding can cause extensive damage to your lawn, as they eat away at roots and stem tissue. Their tunneling disrupts the root beds and causes unsightly blemishes in your lawn.

How do we get rid of them?
There are a couple of methods that can be used to thin out a mole cricket infestation:

  • Biological control: Mole crickets have a few natural enemies, including
    • birds
    • armadillos
    • raccoons
    • rats
    • amphibians/toads

    Parasitic wasps have been imported from South America to areas such as Florida, where the dry soil is a safe haven for mole crickets; in turn, these wasps can thin out a population. Still, biological measures might act as good deterrent, but they will be hard-pressed to eradicate a large mole cricket infestation.

  • Insecticides: I know, more chemicals. But, when you have the cricket flu, you need to turn to something with enough power to remove your mole crickets before your lawn is destroyed. Some of the more reliable products include Acephate Pro 75 and Orthene Turf, Tree & Ornamental Spray, among others. However, please note that many of these products must be employed by a professional, and they can be harmful to pests and other critters.
  • Natural remedies: There is an alternative to insecticides, although it does involve a bit of manual labor. Mix in a small amount of non-detergent soap into a large bucket (think: small amount, as we don’t want to damage the yard); then, pour the soapy water into one of the burrows or tunnels in your yard. after a few minutes, the mole crickets should surface (they don’t like the soap; plus, they find it hard to breathe with a tunnel filled with soapy water!); you can then catch and dispatch them…Or even save them for a later snack! This can be time consuming, but an afternoon spent mole cricket hunting can really thin out the population in your yard. Follow this up with a new, well-stocked bird feeder in order to attract more birds to your yard…Who in turn will hopefully feed on the mole crickets to keep the population under control. Finally, make sure your yard is receiving plenty of water.

Please share any methods that you use to control mole crickets in your home or yard.

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