Many different things can cause turfgrass damage, from inclement weather to subsurface insects. Mole crickets are one such insect that is known to damage lawns, golf course turf and other landscaped areas. Not only do they feed on plants, but they also burrow tunnels throughout the lawn, which uproots the grass and causes it to die.
What are Mole Crickets?
Mole crickets are damaging insects known for tunneling about 1 to 2 inches below the ground. Their cylindrical bodies and two shovel-like front limbs make it easy to maneuver in the soil. They look similar to crickets and have six limbs, two antennae and two beady eyes.
There is the tawny mole cricket and the southern mole cricket, both of which grow to measure about 2 inches in length. The tawny species is tan in color whereas the southern mole cricket is dark brown to black. The tawny mole cricket lacks the four dots on its head as seen on the southern species.
Signs of Mole Cricket Damage
Mole crickets are a lot like moles by how they tunnel and damage the lawn. As they dig through the soil, they leave behind noticeable tunneling and uprooted grass. They push the soil and newly rooted seedlings upward, causing visible damage and dead patches throughout the turf.
How to Control Mole Crickets
Knowing when to treat your lawn for mole crickets is key to preventing immediate and long-term damage. These insects are highly active toward late summer and early fall. During June and July, the immature nymphs are burrowing through the soil. Treating the lawn during this time is best since the damage is minor and the insects have yet to grow into adults.
One way to prevent mole crickets is to remove the thatch in the lawn. These areas attract the insects, so using a dethatcher to remove the thick patches can help.
Removing the mole crickets is another matter. You can opt for a more organic approach, such as using parasitic nematodes to kill them. You can also flush them out using soap and water.
We also have a complete inventory of lawn care products aimed at treating insects in the turf. Here are just a few suggested products to use if you're dealing with a mole cricket infestation:
Prevent Mole Crickets with Heritage PPG
Mole crickets can damage the turf very quickly if they're not controlled at the first sign of damage. Using turf products and practicing good turf management techniques can help prevent and control mole crickets before they can do any harm.