Mole cricket – Tips for my garden

Description of the mole cricket

The mole cricket is an insect belonging to the Gryllotalpidae family. The adult insect is about 2 cm wide and 5 to 7 cm long. It has two wings in the front and two more in the back. The legs are three pairs, placed in the front, middle and rear parts of the body. The legs placed at the front are of the burrowing type, unlike the others because they allow the mole cricket to dig the ground as if it were using shovels. These particular legs are specific to terrestrial insects and help the mole cricket move backward and sideways, digging into the ground more easily. The body of the insect is provided with a chitinous shield (as hard as that of the tick). It has a color that ranges from brown to red and bronze.

How does the mole cricket live?

Invisible to many, the mole cricket spends its life digging tunnels. It is particularly damaging to crops, burrowing up to a meter deep and gnawing the roots of plants for food, infesting potato fields, tomato crops and orchards. Although it is medium in size, thanks to its color tending towards reddish brown, it can almost be confused with the ground. It lives underground and prefers moist, loose soil. It is present in Europe, Western Asia, North America and North Africa. It constantly eats almost everything it finds during its journey, both the flora and the fauna existing in the subsoil: roots, worms and other insects, preferring sugar beets. Equipped with wings, he cannot really fly.

Insect evolutionary processes

The mating of mole crickets takes place in the spring, exactly in June. The adult male specimens, ready to mate, sing to attract the females, who have the task of digging the ground to prepare the so-called nuptial chamber, where the eggs, which are usually around two or three hundred, will be laid. After twenty days, the larvae emerge from the hatched eggs. Before evolving into adult specimens of mole crickets, the larvae remain united until the following spring, making two changes in autumn and another in April-May before pupating. It is only the following winter that the nymphs turn into adults. The life cycle of the mole cricket from its birth to its transformation into an adult specimen is two years. It is only after the third year that the females lay their eggs.

It is important to protect crops from potential mole cricket infestations, especially if you have sweet crops like potatoes, beets, tomatoes, leeks or onions. The most effective remedy is to eliminate the larvae. It is advisable to start prevention in the months of March-April, proceeding to the removal of all those hidden in the ground. Poison baits containing methiocarb are used to catch the larvae. Place the baits at night and collect all the poisoned larvae the next morning, thus avoiding the risk of killing other animals. If you prefer a remedy other than chemical control, you can create bait by burying tin pots or digging deep, wide holes, creating an ideal environment for egg laying.

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