Mole cricket infestations can cause severe damage to your garden vegetables. There are various natural and chemical ways to get rid of them.
What You'll Learn
What Are Mole Crickets?
Mole cricket, a member of the insect family Gryllotalpa, is an invasive pest in North America. They are found in dry, warm regions but most soils and areas. Their diet consists mainly of decaying organic matter, but they will also consume grass seeds and vegetable matter. The ability to burrow underground makes them more challenging to control and eradicate. They are usually about one to two inches long and have a reddish-brown body covered in fine hairs. Mole crickets also have wings used for movement and sense touch. There are many species of these insects, and the most common and native in the United States is Neocurtilla hexadactyla.
What Do Mole Crickets Eat?
Mole crickets often appear from early spring to fall when they cause the most damage to crops. They can destroy seedlings in greenhouses and newly emerged young plants in your garden, yard, and lawn. In addition, the pest bites the roots, bites plant trees, and kills seeds. He eats everything edible and close to him.
This pest often damages seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, newly sprouted potatoes, chard, and other vegetable crops. It is characteristic of mole crickets that they prefers cultivated plants more than wild weeds.
When laying eggs, the female will bite through all the stems nearby, forming a “bald circle” so as not to cast a shadow on the spot she has chosen for the nest. It lays eggs in the center at a depth of 15 cm. The number of laid eggs can range from 100 to 350, but some sources say up to 700 eggs.
Pest Control Measures
Mole crickets are diggers, and they spend most of their lives underground, which is why their control is complex. It would help if you took care of applied non-organic methods because you can damage the soil and microflora.
There are various methods, and all of them have in common that we need to start with them in early spring to prevent and reduce possible damage.
Frequent tillage, digging, or another similar operation disrupts their rhythm of life. The more the earth overturns and drills, the more undesirable it becomes for mole crickets as they become an easy target for birds.
What Are the Signs of Mole Crickets?
Mole crickets are digging tunnels just under the soil surface, and the first signs of these pests’ infestation can include a crunching sound when stepping on soil, white mounds on the lawn, or the appearance of brown, black, and orange patches.
On sunny or hot days, if you find them under objects or in shady areas of your garden. These are all signs that a mole cricket population has moved into your yard.
How To Kill Mole Crickets?
As an organic gardener, I am always finding ways from nature to eliminate those pests, like attracting birds and wasps or preventing them with companion planting herbs and other vegetables. However, that is not always possible for larger farms and food producers.
Make a poisonous baits
- You can make poisonous baits prepared from boiled grains of wheat, barley, and corn. They should be to be coarsely ground to be able to form balls. In half a kilogram of such a mixture, add 15ml of oil and the selected insecticide.
- Place the baits in holes two to four centimeters deep and at a distance of 70 to 100 cm, and cover them with soil.
Bread and matches bait
- To prepare this bait, you will need dark rye bread, moisten it with water, form walnut-sized balls, and stick 10 to 12 matches into it.
- When the coating from the heads dissolves, take the matches out. Then from one ball, make more petite balls the size of a pea.
- Insert such baits into the holes and canals of the mole crickets.
- There are also ready-made poisonous baits that can effectively control the number of insects. They are usually placed at a depth of three to five centimeters, covered with soil, and watered to spread the intense smell through the earth and attract these insects.
- There are many chemical insecticides on the market that you can use to control mole crickets treatment. Many pesticides are available at garden centers, home improvement stores, and online.
- Some products are made specifically to control mole crickets, while others are more general insecticides that can be used against various pests. In addition, some products are specific for a particular stage of development in the mole cricket life cycle.
- The most effective pesticide is one that kills the adults and as well as its nymphs and eggs.
How to get rid of Mole Crickets Naturally?
If you are an organic vegetable gardener wondering how to get rid of mole crickets in a natural way, you should use these tips :
#1 Plants as repellents
Mole crickets don’t like plants with an intense smell, and we can use them to protect crops and other areas. The results can be different depending on the number of individual repellent plants, what plants are the main crops, how attractive they are to mole crickets, and weather conditions.
Marigolds, velvets, and chrysanthemums have an intense scent that repels many pests, and they will avoid the areas around those flowers.
If you have bird cherry or alder branches, you can stick them along the edge of your garden beds because their smell is very unpleasant for this insect. Coniferous branches will also help, and you can stick them at a 1-foot distance.
Companion planting with coriander and garlic will repel these pests from your vegetables. You can also put garlic bulbs in mole crickets holes.
#2 Physical barriers
Mole crickets will spend most of their life underground and close to the soil surface. Raised garden beds and various barriers that they cannot pass will help suppress and control these pests.
You can make barriers from wood, sharp gravel, metal sheets, plastic surfaces, various other materials, and even mosquito nets.
No matter what material you use, it must be buried in the ground to a depth of 1,5 feet.
#3 Dried eggshells
One effective remedy for pest prevention is dried eggshells, ground and drizzled with sunflower oil. Place this mixture in trenches or holes where you will sow seeds or plant seedlings.
#4 Beer traps
In addition to snails, which are well-known beer drinkers, mole crickets also love beer. You can prepare the traps in the same way as for snails. Dig a plastic glass or 16.9oz bottle into the ground, and pour beer into half of the bottle. The pest and snails will fall into and if it rains, repeat the procedure.
#5 The red onion peel solution
You will need 2 pounds of red onion peel, poured into 5 gallons of water, and leave it for five days. You can also add chilly pepper powder to the mixture. Filter and dilute with water in a 1: 5. The garden is watered with this solution once every seven days.
#6 Soapy water
You can flush up mole crickets from their holes using soapy water. Take 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent and pour it into 1 gallon of water. This ratio mix you can spread on 2 square foot meters. The crickets will pop out from the soil as soon the mixture drains their holes. This treatment is suitable for lawns more than vegetable gardens when the population of mole crickets is not high and you are just finding ways to control them.
#7 Attract their natural enemies to your garden and yard
Hedgehogs and various birds like storks, crows, and starlings, hunt and eat mole crickets. They can also significantly control and reduce the number of other pests as well.
According to the Univerity of Florida, Lara bicolor wasp is a natural “parasitoid” enemy of invasive mole cricket pests. You can attract these wasps by planting Spermacoce verticillata, Chamaecrista fasciculata, or Pentas lanceolata (white) flowers around your garden.
Moles crickets are a severe pest that has caused billions of dollars of damage to the world’s agricultural industry. These pests have been around for thousands of years and are considered a nuisance by many farmers. However, there are ways to get rid of them without using harmful pesticides or insecticides.