A recent Turf Advisory Service visit found small mounds of soil on a practice green that resembled ant hills at first glance. On further inspection, the mounds had small tunnels that extended into the turf. A soap flush using one teaspoon of dish washing soap per gallon of water revealed several small mole cricket nymphs of different sizes emerging from the putting green.
Mole crickets are subterranean insects that tunnel through the soil in search of food. They cause turf damage by severing regionalUpdateContents and their tunneling creates tufts of turf on the surface that are scalped by mowers. Tunneling from overwintered adult mole crickets was reported previously this year (see Florida Regional Update - March) but overwintered adults generally cause minor turf damage due to low population numbers. Later in spring, however, adult females dig small underground chambers, about the size of a golf ball, and lay up to 60 eggs within each clutch. Tunnels from emerging nymphs are often observed in bunkers, giving superintendents warning as to when to treat the golf course with the appropriate insecticide. If left untreated, tunneling from recent hatches can become quite severe in areas with large mole cricket populations.
There are several insecticides labeled for mole cricket control on golf courses (seeUniverstity of Florida publication #ENY-324) but it is important to apply these products in a timely manner, as mole cricket nymphs can grow and damage turf quickly. Some insecticides are rather short-lived and outbreaks can quickly re-emerge following treatment. These are usually fairly inexpensive options. For a few dollars more there are insecticides available with longer residuals and that are guaranteed by the manufacturer to provide season-long mole cricket control.
Source: Todd Lowe, firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-828-2625