Mole crickets are a true pest for homeowners in the south. They are omnivores, eating grubs, earthworms, bermudagrass and centipede grass. They will not bite your if you hold them in your hand, but they will try to dig through you as if your hand were soil. In large enough numbers, they can devastate your lawn. Mole crickets are nocturnal and live mostly underground, so it is unlikely that many of you have seen a mole cricket. It is highly probably that you have seen the signs of them and not known what caused it.
Signs of mole crickets
Mole crickets usually leave small mounds in the soil. They look like minature versions of a crawfish mound or like small mud volcanoes for those of you unfamiliar with mud bugs. There can also be trails of disturbed soil consisting of small pellets. This is from them moving around under the soil. If you see these, your can confirm your suspicions with a soapy water test. Mix 1-1/2 tablespoons of dish soap with 2 gallons of water and pour it over about four square feet of grass. Wait a few minutes and whatever bug is down there will rise to the surface so they don't drown. If it looks like the picture at the top of the page, you've identified the pest.
How to exterminate mole crickets
While the ugly bug shown at the top of the page is the most noticeable, it is their young that cause the most damage to your grass. Luckily, they are also the easiest to exterminate. Adult mole crickets can and will burrow deep into the ground at the first sign of danger from pesticides and wait it out for months. The young mole cricket nymphs aren't able to do the same. Usually early spring is when you will want to treat for these if you've ever had a problem before. This will be the most effective time. If you live in southern Louisiana, you are looking at a march application.
Mole crickets usually mate in fall and can be seen flying (yes they can fly) to find a mate. Mole crickets also hibernate deep in the soil in winter. Since they are away from the damaged area, treating for mole crickets at either of these times is ineffective.
Pest control products containing imidacloprid or fipronil are good for preventing a population from growing. They also provide long lasting control which will help since mole crickets can evade danger for extended periods. If you have a large active mole cricket problem, you should use pest control products containing bifenthrin. As with all pesticides, follow the product label first and foremost.