Mole Crickets Part II: Behavior

Most mole crickets get together for mating when most of the population has reached adulthood and moist soil conditions occur, usually mid-spring. In order to get together for mating, male mole crickets often build a ‘calling chamber’ at the soil surface. They push up the soil into a shell-shaped structure which helps direct and amplify their chirping. At dusk and for a few hours after full sunset, the males of each species produce distinctive chirps that are to attract females. Other males may also come to the areas where the first males set up calling chambers. These are usually areas with moist soil and abundant food resources (either plant roots and/or other insects). This, apparently increases the chance that males will be visited by females. The end result is that certain areas will have very high numbers of males and females during the beginning of the season.

Photograph Developmental stages of the tawny mole cricket.

These sites can be identified by the abundant mounds of soil being pushed up by the males and obvious evidence of surface digging where adults have flown in and dug into the soil. These sites are also where the majority of eggs will be laid! Observant superintendents take note of these locations and target controls when eggs are expected to hatch.

Adult and near adult mole crickets also make structured burrows in the soil, and they often don’t travel far from these base burrows except during mating or flights to mating and egg laying sites. These base burrows are often 1 to 2 m deep (and deeper if the soil is dry!) and the top has a Y-configuration. Below the Y area there is often a chamber for resting. If a predator enters the burrow, the cricket has two routes of escape, and the chamber can trap air if extensive rains flood the soil. The problem with these base burrows is that they are impossible to penetrate with insecticides and you have to wait until surface activity resumes when baits or special treatments that kill adults can be used. The other option is to wait until egg laying occurs and control the new crop of nymphs.

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