Mole crickets are subterranean insects, meaning that they spend most of their lives in the soil. This makes them a little more difficult to manage than some other turfgrass insects because their activity is hidden from us and serious damage to the turfgrass is often the first sign of an infestation. Equally important is the fact that the thatch and soil act somewhat as a means of protection for the mole cricket from any control we might apply.
Mole crickets damage turfgrass in several ways. Nymphs and adults feed on grass roots and blades at night after rain or irrigation, during warm weather. Their tunneling near the soil surface dislodges plants or causes them to dry out. Small mounds of soil are also pushed up by late summer. More than 20 feet of tunneling per night can occur. Tunneling and root-feeding reduce turfgrass density and create patches of bare soil.
There are four important steps to mole cricket control:
- Map the areas of infestation. You can often do this in the spring, based upon activity of the adults. The adults usually lay eggs back in the same area where you observed their activity in the spring.
- A couple of weeks after significant egg hatch occurs, apply a long-lasting granule insecticide to your yard to control the small nymphs. Applying the product too early may result in the residual activity declining prior to end of egg hatch. Applying the product too late may result in poor control because the earliest hatching crickets have gotten too large. Follow directions on proper use and application.
- Perform follow-up monitoring of control and spot treat any areas where you determine the individual control to be less than acceptable.
By following these guidelines and correct timing of your application, you can make great strides in managing this troublesome pest. Like any soil pest, mole crickets are difficult to control and you should never expect 100-percent control.
For more information on suggested products or application instructions, contact any of the store locations listed below.