Mole crickets are insects commonly found in the Southern United States, which damage lawns by tunneling through the soil near the surface and eating the root systems of vegetables, plants, and turf grass.
These common pests can be difficult to identify because they live underground and are nocturnal. Luckily, they can be ejected from the ground using a mixture of liquid dish soap and water. An adult mole cricket is 1-2 inches long with large, beady eyes, spade-like “legs” and dull grey/brown bodies.
Identifying Mole Crickets
Mole crickets can be identified by small mounds of soil scattered on the surface of your lawn or garden where they have burrowed into the ground. The grass around these areas will turn brown and die, and the lawn may feel spongy underfoot due to the tunnels.
If you suspect that you’re dealing with a mole cricket infestation, mix 1.5 ounces of liquid dishwashing soap into 2 gallons of water, and then spread the mixture over 4 feet of your yard. If two to four mole crickets appear within three minutes of applying the mixture, then you know you’re dealing with a serious problem.
Mole crickets burrow deep underground during the day, which makes them difficult to control, but understanding their mating cycles and the best times to do prevention and treatment can make a big difference in how effective your efforts are against them.
Mole crickets generally breed a new generation every year. Adults fly, mate, and lay eggs in the spring, with the eggs hatching about three weeks later. Once the eggs hatch the nymphs begin to feed, which means you’ll usually start seeing damage in the early summer months.
The longer you wait to treat your mole cricket problem, the more difficult it will be to solve. The nymphs grow to a half-inch or more within the first few weeks, and the larger they get, the more pesticide or insecticide is required to eliminate them.
Best Practices to Deal with Mole Crickets
There are several approaches to control and eliminate mole crickets, all of which require controlling the mole cricket population before they become too large to control.
Preventative Measures: using long-residual products such as Fipronil or Imidacloprid can control the amount of nymphs that are able to hatch and grow to maturity. Be sure to check the labels to see if they indicate that the specific formula will be effective against mole crickets.
Curative Controls: If you’ve already started experiencing the brunt of mole cricket damage, using products such as pyrethroids and acephate within 2-3 weeks of the spring hatch can assist in managing the growth of the already-born nymphs.
Maintaining a well-watered lawn or garden can help these curative products be more effective, as dry, cracked soil won’t properly absorb and distribute the solutions. If your soil is dry, take steps in the days preceding the treatment to make sure it’s as effective as possible. Additionally, too much water following the treatment can be detrimental, as it may water-in the control product and lessen its effects.
More Articles About Savannah Lawn Pests
- What Are Mole Crickets?
- What is Law Fungus and is it Killing Your Grass?
- Super-Quick Fall Lawn Care Tips
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