Southern Mole Cricket
Scapteriscus acletus Rehn & Hebard, Gryllotalpidae, ORTHOPTERA


Adult - The beady-eyed adults are about 32 mm long, brown, and covered with fine short hairs. They have short front wings, long and membranous hind wings which fold under the forewings, and short, broad, shovel-like front legs for digging.

Egg - Eggs are oval and about 32 mm long.

Nymph - Nymphs are similar in appearance to adults but are smaller and wingless.


Distribution - The southern mole cricket occurs from North Carolina to Texas. In North Carolina it is more prevalent in the Coastal Plain.

Host Plants - Nymphs and adults tunnel in the soil and feed on decomposing organic matter and roots. By tunneling, mole crickets injure tobacco seedlings, garden vegetables, peanuts, strawberries, and grasses. Severe damage may be done to the roots and tubers of potatoes, turnips, and sweet potatoes.

Damage - The southern mole cricket is one of several species of mole crickets which injury young plants by tunneling in the soil and feeding on roots. Seedlings may be uprooted by the tunneling activity of mole crickets. Heavily tunneled soil dries out quickly causing further stress to plants.

Life History - The southern mole cricket overwinters as a nymph or adult, migrating downward in the soil during cold weather. In spring, eggs are laid in the soil in cells constructed by the females. About 35 eggs are placed in each cell. Hatching occurs in 10 to 40 days depending on temperature. Nymphs develop through 6 or 7 molts and may become adults by winter or may overwinter as immatures. One generation occurs per year.


Mole crickets can be controlled by applying treatments before planting. For specific chemical recommendations, consult the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual

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