Insects & Other Pests ›
Over the past several years mole crickets have become the number one insect pest of home lawns, golf courses, municipal and commercial properties, and sod farms along the North Carolina coast. Two species are present as pests along the southeastern coast, the tawny mole cricket (Scapteriscus vicinus) and the southern mole cricket (S. borellii). The tawny is the most destructive species of mole cricket since it feeds almost exclusively on the roots and shoots of grass. Southern mole crickets may feed a little on the roots, but are primarily predators feeding on small creatures that live in the soil. Both species do considerable tunneling. A third species, the northern mole cricket (Neocurtilla hexadactyla) occurs throughout the state but is less damaging. The tawny mole cricket has been a pest in North Carolina only since 1987 but has become the most damaging species. This pest remains a challenge to effective management. Mole cricket management requires a full-scale program for best results. This publication recommends the most economical and effective mole cricket management plan.
Mole crickets require advanced planning and appropriate preinfestation management strategies, unlike other insects that can be effectively controlled once a threatening population is observed. If serious damage is allowed to occur before control is begun, the battle has already been lost for that particular year.
There is great interest and demand to develop nonchemical control technology for mole crickets in turfgrass. Great advances have been made in nonchemical control in the past few years; however, few approaches provide acceptable control at this time. The future does hold promise for new innovations. Studies have shown that the coarser textured bermudagrass cultivars are less susceptible to mole crickets than the finer textured hybrids. This knowledge may be used in turf areas where fine texture is not important. There has been considerable work on biological control of mole cricket in North Carolina. A parasitic fly has been released and studies are underway to determine its ability to establish here. In addition, work is still underway evaluating a parasitic nematode that attacks the mole cricket. Nematode sprays can be applied with conventional application technology. This nematode has shown good potential.