Mole crickets are commonly found around the perimeter of a vegetable field and will migrate into the field as the soil fumigants dissipate off and as the growing season progresses1. Therefore, if a field of young seedlings is adjacent to a field or pasture that is infested with mole crickets it will be largely at risk. Mole crickets can increase populations by directly feeding upon the crop or by feeding on weeds that colonize between the crop rows. Smaller vegetable seedlings appear to be very susceptible to feeding damage and the soil disruption caused by the tunneling activity of the mole crickets. Larger transplants appear to be more tolerant.
Reducing initial mole cricket infestations in the field can be accomplished by applying soil fumigants before or immediately after transplanting. Check the local County Extension Service for the most appropriate and effective fumigant. To decrease the likelihood of substantial damage, transplant large rather than small seedlings, which may be more tolerant to the mole cricket damage. Reducing the occurrence of weeds that may colonize in the field and act as alternate food sources for the mole crickets may also limit population growth.
Biological control is an attractive way to suppress pest mole crickets and has proven successful in Florida. Ormia depleta is a natural enemy of the pest mole crickets and its populations have spread almost everywhere in Florida south of Ocala. Larra bicolor, another natural enemy of the pest mole crickets has populations present in a few counties in northern Florida, but is spreading. With deliberate plantings of food sources for the adults of these two organisms it is likely that their populations can be increased locally, as with butterfly gardening, and effectively reduce pest mole cricket populations.
2 Hudson, W.G. 1985. Other behavior, damage, and sampling. In: Walker TJ, editor. Mole Crickets in Florida: Florida Agric. Exp. Bull. 846. p 16-21.