Mole crickets are pests known for burrowing into the ground and emitting loud chirping sounds to attract mates. They feed on the roots of seedlings and disturb the germination of seeds in your garden. To deal with mole crickets and save the condition of your lawn, learn how to kill mole crickets around your home.
Mole crickets are present worldwide, with one species native to South America and spreading into North America. Other species are native to Australia, Europe, and northern Africa. Mole crickets are not pests elsewhere due to the presence of natural predators that keep their numbers under control.
To determine the presence of mole crickets, look for signs of mole cricket damage like disturbed earth, tunnels, and dying grass. In the southern U.S., mole crickets feed on Bahia, St Augustine, or bermudagrass lawns. Tawny mole crickets feed on grass roots, detaching the turf grass from the soil and Southern mole crickets feed on organisms that live in the soil.
- Chemical and Natural Ways to Kill Mole Crickets
- Parasitic Predators: The Best Way to Kill Mole Crickets
- Tracking and Monitoring Mole Crickets
Chemical and Natural Ways to Kill Mole Crickets
In parts of the world where crickets are new to the area, they are agricultural pests. If left unchecked, mole crickets destroy lawns and turfgrass. Mole crickets are destructive to lawns at each stage of their long life cycle, so it’s crucial to be thorough if you want to remove them from your property.
You don’t have to rely on professionals to know what kills mole crickets to get rid of them effectively or to use what keeps crickets away from your garden. Use homemade solutions and insecticides to handle a mole cricket problem.
Hand Picking Mole Crickets
Mole crickets are active at night when they emerge from the soil to feed on roots and foliage. Survey your yard late at night or early in the morning.
Take a jar filled with soapy water out with you and grab any mole crickets you find on your lawn. While you’re not likely to deal with a mole cricket infestation by hand, if their numbers are small, this is the perfect way to keep them from taking over.
How to Kill Mole Crickets with Neem Oil
Neem oil comes from a tree in Africa and Asia, and the oil works as a form of insect control worldwide. When used as a repellent, it is applied to plants, making them inedible for pests that chew foliage.
As an insecticide, neem oil sprays coat insects and damage the protective coating of an insect’s exoskeleton. Neem oil disrupts the insect’s membrane functions, and the insect loses water quickly, drying out until they die.
Use a watering can or tank sprayer, and make a natural repellent for crickets and other insects by combining your neem oil mixture outside. Apply the solution evenly across your lawn in areas you identified as problem areas for mole crickets Neem oil also kills cucumber beetles that may be feeding in your vegetable garden.
Treat your property at least once a week in the summer until signs of mole cricket damage go away. The ease of the neem oil application makes this one of the most straightforward home remedies for killing mole crickets and to deal with a cave cricket infestation in your house or yard.
Killing Mole Crickets with Insecticide Granules
Insecticide granules are insecticides bound to a porous material like tiny bits of clay. After spreading these granules across your yard, water your yard to activate the insecticide in a delayed-release process. This method of release prolongs the life of the insecticide.
Commercial granules like Bifen LP are available for purchase with instructions on properly using them with a granule spreader. After application, these granules remain active for two to four months to kill pests.
Can You Use Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Mole Crickets?
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a powder made from the tiny fossilized bodies of aquatic creatures called diatoms. These fossilized creatures have a crystalline texture that is safe around humans and pets, but the sharp edges of the fossils are dangerous for small insects, making it one of the best natural ways to kill mole crickets. It kills spider crickets and many other annoying insects.
The head and limbs of mole crickets are rigid and hard; however, their abdomens are soft, allowing the diatomaceous earth to puncture their bodies upon contact. Spread diatomaceous earth across the yard, specifically around areas of mole cricket activity, to slowly kill pests by drying their bodies.
Note that diatomaceous earth works also great for fungus gnats that are often present in houseplant soil and for spiders, aphids, and beetles.
Target Mole Crickets with Non-Repellent Insecticides
Some insecticides act as repellents, emitting an odor that deters insects from visiting the treated area. This method effectively keeps pests out of homes but does not always kill pests as they avoid the area altogether; however, non-repellents do not alert insects to the insecticide.
Insects visit the treated site and become infected with a slow-acting poison that spreads to their habitat or colony. When it comes to insecticides, using a non-repellent is the best way to kill mole crickets.
Fipronil is a chemical compound found in some non-repellent insecticides used to kill various insect pests. Fipronil-Plus-C is an effective mole cricket control used at one ounce for every gallon of water.
Apply this insecticide where you notice mole cricket activity, including their tunnels and disturbed earth areas or damaged turf areas on the golf course. Treat the site again if you find activity 30 days after treatment.
Kill Mole Crickets with Imidacloprid
Imidacloprid is a synthetic insecticide made to mimic the nicotine properties found in plants, which is toxic to insects. This type of insecticide belongs to a category of chemicals known as neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids affect the nervous system of insects which eventually leads to their death.
Imidacloprid insecticides are available online with complete instructions for the perfect dilution ratio and application guides. Due to the nature of neonicotinoids, this insecticide is harmful to beneficial insects like bees. Do not use imidacloprid insecticides near flowering plants.
Parasitic Predators: The Best Way to Kill Mole Crickets
Like many insects, mole crickets are the prey of many larger animals like birds, toads, and any mammal that includes insects in its diet.
Parasitoid wasps target mole crickets and lay eggs on their bodies, while some fly species hatch eggs inside their abdomen to deposit on the body of mole crickets. While you can attract some predators to your area, others are available for purchase to be used directly on your lawn.
Using Parasitoid Wasps to Kill Mole Crickets
Larra bicolor is a wasp native to South America that is a natural predator of mole crickets. Florida introduced these wasps as pest control to target the Scapteriscus genus of mole crickets. These wasps lay eggs on the crickets, and once the eggs hatch, the larva feeds on its host until it kills the cricket.
After killing the host, the larva creates a cocoon in the cricket’s remains before emerging as an adult. Because their pupal stage lasts less than two months, longer during winter, these wasps create several generations per year.
This process allows the wasp species to reproduce faster than mole crickets and is what makes them so successful as one of the natural ways to kill mole crickets. To encourage Larra wasps to visit your area, sow seeds for plants they like. Button weed and partridge peas are two plants whose flower nectar attracts these wasps.
Parasitic nematodes, often known commercially as beneficial nematodes, are microscopic roundworms naturally found in soil. These nematodes are parasitic to insects that develop a larval stage in the soil or mobile insects that live their adult life stages above the soil.
When applied to the soil, beneficial nematodes attack the pests and inject their blood with bacteria, creating a food source within the host and allowing the BN to live and reproduce until the host dies, searching for a new host.
Mix your packet of BN with water following the label instructions, and evenly apply the nematodes to the lawn. Use the nematodes in two applications, one week apart, to stagger the life cycles of your nematodes.
Tracking and Monitoring Mole Crickets
Mole crickets grow through three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The activity of mole crickets is highest in late summer when grasses stop growing as quickly. When temperatures drop, especially in the north, mole cricket activity stops as the northern mole cricket and mole cricket nymphs overwinter in the soil.
As temperatures rise in early summer, nymphs grow into adults seeking to mate. Adult crickets die shortly after mating and laying eggs, so the best time to treat your lawn is in early spring before the next crickets are born or during the summer after all eggs hatch.
Finding Mole Crickets in Your Lawn
To see if you have a mole cricket problem, flush your lawn with a homemade mix of water and soap. Adult mole crickets burrow through dry soil to create tunnels and habitats for laying eggs. Use water and soap to flush them to the surface to determine if you have a mole cricket infestation.
Mix two gallons of water with the liquid dish soap of your choice. This mixture is enough to soak a two-square-foot area of your lawn thoroughly, so if you’re testing larger areas, increase the ratio to ensure the ground becomes wet enough.
Spread the soapy water across the area and watch as the water sinks. If mole crickets are present, they’ll emerge from the soil surface. Identify mole crickets by their cylindrical bodies and their signature flat front limbs with claws that allow them to dig.
Remain vigilant for signs of mole cricket damage to maintain the quality of your lawn. As grass dies from mole crickets eating the roots, it allows weeds to sprout, making weed control necessary in addition to dealing with mole crickets. If you have a mole cricket problem, include one of our control methods in your regular lawn care to eliminate mole crickets.
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