Mole Crickets: Small Pest – Big Problem
The mole cricket calls start coming in this time of year. This pest is only approximately 1.5 inches long but can cause a number of issues in pastures, forage areas, turf-grass, and vegetable seedlings. In Florida, there are three types of non-native mole crickets; the short winged mole cricket, the southern mole cricket, and the tawny mole cricket. Mole cricket feeding and tunneling can cause damage or kill the affected plants, especially during warm and moist summer months when the nymphs are rapidly developing. Feeding on the roots and shoots of the grass can cause an overall decline, dead patches, and little to no root mass. Infested grass may be uprooted by feeding livestock, rendering the grass unavailable for additional grazing and growth. Allowing weeds to grow in where the grass once was.
What Caused Mole Crickets to Show Up?
Mole crickets can appear for a number of reasons; overgrazing, over fertilization (depending on the variety of grass), a disruption in the soil pH, irrigation practices, increased rain fall, and/or warm weather. Lighted areas also attract mole crickets.
Signs Mole Crickets are Present
- Yellowing of pastures
- The top soil layer (6-10 inches) is honeycombed with numerous mole cricket galleries
- The ground can feel spongy underneath
- Damaged root system causing grass can be pulled up easily
If you believe mole crickets are invading your pastures you can conduct a “soapy water” drench test. This test can bring mole cricket nymphs and adults to the soil surface. This will allow you the opportunity to identify and remove some of the pests. Learn how to conduct the soapy water test by following this link.
Mole crickets are a pesky problem. Proper pasture management practices can help reduce the likely hood of mole crickets taking up residency in your pastures. Follow this link to learn more about establishing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in your pastures: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1021