Your lawn is more than likely one of your favorite things about your home. A beautiful, well-manicured lawn can make your house look amazing and give you a great place to enjoy activities and spend time. However, it doesn’t take much for pests to move in and destroy your lawn in a small amount of time.
Mole crickets are one of these lawn-killing pests, and they are very common in the United States, especially in regions like South Carolina and Florida. A mole cricket infestation can turn your lawn brown and make the soil spongy and unstable. Knowing how to get rid of these pests is crucial for any homeowner.
In this article, you will learn:
- How To Get Rid of Mole Crickets in Your Lawn
- How To Prevent Mole Crickets
- What Mole Crickets Look Like
- Mole Cricket Life Cycle
- Signs of a Mole Cricket Infestation
- Causes of a Mole Cricket Infestation
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table Of Contents
How To Get Rid of Mole Crickets in Your Lawn
A mole cricket infestation is incredibly frustrating, especially if you spend a lot of time caring for your lawn. Because they live underground and only come up at night, they can be difficult to spot and even more difficult to kill. There are, however, quite a few things you can do to get rid of these awful pests and keep your lawn in its original, beautiful condition. Trying out a few of these methods can help you nail down the problem.
1. Use a Soap and Water Flush
If you’re noticing that your lawn is looking a little bit brown or dry, a soapy water flush is a great way to find out if you’re dealing with a mole cricket problem. From there, you can physically eliminate them. To make the flush, combine one to two liters of water with a few drops of dish soap. Look for a hole in your lawn where the mole crickets have burrowed, and apply the solution in a slow stream down the hole. This will drive the insects out of their burrow so you can catch and kill them.
2. Apply Nematodes
Using nematodes to get rid of mole crickets is an incredibly effective method. However, it can be very difficult to keep the nematodes alive during shipping and storage before application, so you must do everything to ensure they are handled properly. There are a lot of suppliers that will ship nematodes to you and give you instructions on how to handle them and apply them. For the most part, nematodes need to be stored in moist conditions between 55 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Bury a Glass Trap
If you want to trap mole crickets in your yard, bury a glass container such as a Mason jar in the lawn with honey in the bottom. Bury the jar so that the top is level with the ground and cover the opening with straw. Mole crickets will be attracted to the sweet smell of the honey and will burrow through the straw just like they do when they’re digging holes in your lawn. From there, they will be trapped in the sticky honey and eventually killed by their inability to climb up the smooth walls of the jar.
4. Lay Out Eggshells
Eggshells are a great way to poison and kill mole crickets without endangering other animals in your yard, like birds or pets. Crush up dried eggshells and coat them in unrefined sunflower oil. The oil will attract the mole crickets when they come up at night to hunt. The sharp edges of the eggshells are harmful to them and will eventually kill them. You can use this bait when planting seedlings or plants in your yard since eggshells make an excellent fertilizer.
5. Use Commercial Insecticides
There are many commercial insect killers that you can use to kill mole crickets in your Bermuda grass or other lawn types. These poisons usually come in granular form and can be spread around your lawn at night. Research which types of pesticides will be best for your particular situation and climate, and be consistent with their application.
How To Prevent Mole Crickets
1. Plant Marigolds
Many different plants will repel pests, including mole crickets, and ensure they don’t make their home in your yard. Marigolds, in particular, are an excellent repellent and will keep mole crickets off your lawn and away from the rest of your garden or backyard. If you plant them around the perimeter of your lawn, you can be certain that they won’t burrow into the soil and infest it.
2. Fill Furrows with Kerosene Sand
Any time you plant something in your lawn or install new irrigation, you can fill the furrow with a bit of kerosene-soaked sand. This is a great way to ensure that you don’t get an infestation of mole crickets or other digging pests like voles. Mole crickets tunnel into your grass when the soil is especially sandy, so they look for that type of turf. If you poison it before they get a chance to get in, they won’t be able to make their home there.
3. Plant Seeds with Iodine
Iodine makes an excellent disinfectant for your seeds when you’re planting flowers and other non-edible plants. Most soil is deficient in iodine, to begin with, and needs it to grow robustly. On top of this, it makes a great repellent for mole crickets. Before planting them, coat your seeds with iodine to keep different mole cricket species from infesting your garden or lawn.
4. Apply Essential Oils
Essential oils are great insect repellents in general and can be just as effective to control mole crickets. Oils like peppermint, citronella, and lemongrass can help reduce the mold cricket population in and around your garden by keeping them away from the intense aroma. You can also mix a few drops of oil with a gallon of water and use this to water your lawn. This is especially effective in early fall when mole cricket damage is the most apparent.
5. Avoid Favorite Grasses
Bermuda grass and Bahiagrass are particular favorites of mole crickets, and not planting these grasses is a great way to prevent an infestation. If you live in an area where mole crickets are common, such as the southeastern United States, avoid planting a lawn at all. A gravel or bark backyard will be much less likely to have a mole cricket infestation and can help you avoid the hassle.
Many different plants will repel pests, including mole crickets, and ensure they don’t make their home in your yard. Marigolds, in particular, are an excellent repellent and will keep mole crickets off your lawn and away from the rest of your garden or backyard.
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What Do Mole Crickets Look Like?
Mole crickets like to hide underneath your lawn in burrows, making them difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Luckily, though, they have a very distinct look that’s easy to identify if you spot one. Mole crickets, in general, are the same size as house and field crickets, which are about 1.5 inches long. They also have dark eyes, just like a regular cricket. However, they have very distinct differences.
One of the main differences between a mole cricket and a house cricket is their front legs. Mole crickets have very short, squat legs, unlike house crickets, which have long, slender legs. Mole crickets also have claws on their front legs that they use to burrow into your lawn. These claws heavily resemble the front paws of a mole, which is partially where they get their name from. They will burrow into your lawn and create tunnels that are 10 to 20 feet long and can be up to 30 inches deep. This is why they are so hazardous for your front or backyard.
Their bodies are usually grayish-brown or tan, unlike field crickets which are darker in color, and house crickets which are usually yellowish-brown. You will be much more likely to see mole crickets at night when they come up out of the ground for feeding.
Mole Cricket Life Cycle
As with most insects, a mole cricket will start as an egg. Mole cricket eggs can be laid in batches of up to 150, which is why they’re such a problem in areas where they’re prominent. Mole crickets overwinter in your grass and will end up in their final stage as nymphs or adults, and when early spring comes around, they’ll come up out of the soil to mate. Males will usually die after mating in the early summer, and the females will begin burrowing to lay eggs.
Depending on how much moisture is in your soil, the females’ eggs will hatch in about three weeks. As the eggs hatch and the life cycle progresses, the damage to your lawn gets worse, and the nymphs get bigger. One of the main issues is that mole crickets do the most damage when grasses are at their peak growth, which is why they can be so difficult to control.
Signs of a Mole Cricket Infestation
Dying Lawn – Other than the chirping that comes with any species of cricket, one of the most common signs of a mole cricket infestation is extensive damage to your lawn or turfgrass. You may notice that the soil under your feet feels spongy or soft, and this is a sign that the crickets have dug their tunnels underneath the soil surface and have already done the damage.
Dirt Mounds – Just like with voles or gophers, you may notice small mounds of dirt on your lawn. These are the entry points for mole crickets and are a surefire sign that you have an infestation. They will be smaller than the mounds made with other vermin, but they will still be recognizable.
Causes of a Mole Cricket Infestation
Sandy Soil – If the soil underneath your lawn is easy to burrow into, mole crickets will take advantage of that. Harder soils make egg-laying and digging more difficult and will repel these pests. However, just because you have harder soil, this doesn’t mean that you’re protected. Mole crickets have incredible digging abilities and can make their way below almost any surface.
Favored Grasses – Mole crickets have several favorite types of grass that they’ll be more attracted to than others. Bahiagrass and Bermuda grass are particularly susceptible to mole crickets. They can get underneath the soil and weaken the grass roots, effectively killing the lawn in a short period.
Understanding the life cycle and habits of the mole cricket can help you avoid getting an infestation. Once mole crickets make their way into your lawn, they can be incredibly difficult to remove, so prevention is crucial. Adult mole crickets are very destructive, and keeping them away from your lawn is important no matter where you live.
A pest control professional could be your best option if you’re dealing with a mole cricket infestation. They will know the best possible pesticides and the active ingredients needed to get rid of the issue. Having a professional on your side is a great way to rest easy, knowing that your lawn will be protected.