Mole crickets are thick-bodied insects with large beady eyes and shovel-like forelimbs highly developed for burrowing and swimming. They are brown, tan, or reddish-brown in color. The adult mole cricket may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and is active most of the year.
Approximately 1 to 2 inches in length.
Mole crickets are serious pests of lawns, and they are prevalent throughout Florida. They are recognized by their large, shovel-like front legs that resemble those of moles. Adult mole crickets can fly and are attracted to exterior lights.
Mole crickets are relatively common, but because they are nocturnal and spend nearly all their lives underground in extensive tunnel systems they are rarely seen. They inhabit agricultural fields, rice paddies, lawns, and golf courses. Five out of the seven species present in North America are immigrants from Europe, Asia, and South America, and are commonly considered pests.
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Mole crickets can damage plants by feeding at night on aboveground foliage or stem tissue and belowground on roots and tubers. Seedlings may be girdled at the stems near the soil surface, though some plants may be completely severed and pulled into a tunnel to be eaten. Mole cricket tunneling near the soil surface dislodges plants or causes them to dry out. Tunneling reduces the aesthetic quality of turfgrass, interferes with the roll of the ball on golf courses, and results in reduced livestock grazing on severely infested pastures.