African Mole Cricket

Gryllotalpa africana

African Mole Cricket

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Gryllotalpa africana, or the African Mole Cricket, is a chunky and cylindrical, medium-sized insect. They don't jump, but they do create a loud, droning buzz when they fly. G. africana can be a significant garden pest. They're attracted to damp or wet environments, attacking the roots of plants and grasses. They're also known to graze on strawberries and potato tubers.

Traits

These insects can be pests in the garden, especially if near water or frequently damp.
They are food for a variety of wildlife, such as birds, reptiles and mammals.

Appearance

Adults: A medium-sized insect that can grow as large as 3cm. They're brown and cylindrical, and don't jump as you'd expect. The forewings are short; they only cover under half the abdomen. In-flight, the hindwings become extended and look like large fans. At rest, they look like two spikes. The very front legs are wide and flat, accompanied with large, flattened claws, modified for burrowing and digging. They're readily attracted to light, so can be seen flying near street lamps or into glass windows. They live in burrows that are typically near water but will sometimes form burrows in gardens. Nymphs: They're similar to the adults but smaller in size and don't have fully-developed wings.

Symptoms

If there are mole crickets attacking thee roots, plants may begin to lose vigour and weaken. A dull, buzzing sound will be evident if there is a mole cricket near. Mole crickets graze on potatoes and strawberries. They can damage turf by uprooting the grass. They may attack the tender, young shoots of plants. You may find mole-like tunnels through the lawn. Irregular and uneven burrows may be present near or on lawns.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Orthoptera

Family

Gryllotalpidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Widespread across Asia, USA, and parts of Africa.

Biological treatment

By practising good housekeeping, mole cricket infestations are prevented. These insects are highly attracted to damp, wet and waterlogged habitats. Lawns with protective mats or possessing too much thatch provides the perfect habitat for a mole cricket. Thatch can build up when lawns are watered too often or receive too much fertiliser. The overwintering adults will emerge in spring, and it's at this point you may notice tunnels on the lawn. The nymphs become most active in the spring (October to March), so now would be an excellent time to treat them because they're much more vulnerable at this point. You can mix washing up liquid with one gallon of water and sprinkle it over 1 to 2 square foot area of the lawn. This should be done in the morning or evening. The crickets soon come to the surface, and at this point, you can quickly capture them or squash them. Repeat in 2-3 weeks.

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