Pest Identification: The adult form of the mole cricket is plump, winged, and anywhere from 1 to 1 1/4 inches long. They range in color from a light to a dark brown. Even when your yard is infested with these pests, it is rare to actually see them because, most of the time, they remain underground. They only come out to fly and mate twice during a typical year, once in the spring and again in the fall. During these periods, you can sometimes locate their exit holes in the ground. They nymphs of the mole cricket look like smaller versions of the adults, but lack the adult's wings. They can become very numerous during the warmer, summer months and can end up causing a lot of damage to your lawn.
Since it can often be hard to find these insects in order to identify them, since they live under the ground, you will have to take extra steps in order to discover if mole crickets are threatening your lawn. The best and easiest way to check for a mole cricket infestation is to use a detergent flush on suspect areas, preferably in late June. To do this, simply add 2 tablespoons of a liquid detergent to 1 gallon of water. Then pour the resulting mixture over a 1 - 2 square foot area, usually in a place where damage had appeared in the spring. If there are mole crickets present in the location, they will surface in only a few minutes. If you chose to use this method, it is recommended that you perform the flush in the early morning or late afternoon.
Damage Identification: Typically, damage caused by these insects shows up as a brown, spongy area within the normal grass of your lawn. If you inspect the area more thoroughly, you will be able to see that the grass has been eaten just under the surface, which ends up separating the grass from their roots. Usually, mole crickets feed at night when the weather is warm, particularly just afer rain showers. During the day or when conditions are dry, they tend to remain in their burrows.
Control/Treatment: It's impossible to completely eradicate mole crickets. Even if you happened to purge them from your lawn temporarily, they will likely return. Thus, all you can hope to do if these insects are present in your region is to manage the population to keep them at a tolerable level. The easiest way to do this is to apply insecticides that target the nymph populations, since they are easier to kill than the adults.
These pests have, in general, become resistant to such pesticides as Diazinon, Dursban, Sevin, and Malathion. There are a few treatment options that are still very effective, however. These include 75% Acephate, Talstar, and Top Choice (which contains Fipronil). The best time to apply these insecticides is during the months of June, July, and early August. This is because, during this time, the nymphs are most sensitive to treatments. It should also be noted that, if you have been infested in the past, it is best to apply annual treatments to prevent the problem from returning. Careful control and monitoring are essential to minimizing the damage caused bymole cricket lawn pests.
Grass Types Most Susceptible to Infestation:
- St. Augustine