Play cricket cricket with snails

Fight mole crickets with traps

Mole crickets are primeval-looking relatives of the locusts. They grow up to seven centimeters long and, like moles and voles, spend most of their lives under the surface of the earth. Because they prefer loose, cultivated soils, mole crickets like to stay in vegetable gardens and compost heaps. Their tunnel systems can become quite large over time - the nocturnal animals create new corridor systems with a total length of over 30 meters every day. The tunnels, which are around five centimeters wide, run mostly close to the surface of the earth, but in some parts also lead almost vertically down to the storage chamber or breeding cave lying deeper.

Way of life of the mole crickets

Mole crickets feed almost exclusively on maggots, worms and other soil organisms. Only when there is a lack of food do they occasionally eat plant roots. However, they regularly devastate freshly planted vegetable beds because they push the young seedlings out of the ground when digging. Tennis- to handball-sized dead spots on the lawn are in many cases an indication of the presence of mole crickets. The nesting cavities of the insects are located under the spots. Because they bite through all the roots when creating the caves, the plants dry up in these places.

Mole crickets can be a nuisance locally: Up to 7,000 animals have already been caught on 600 square meters of park lawn. Overall, however, they tend to be among the rare insects, especially since they are rarely found in northern Germany. The animals also have their good sides: their menu includes snail eggs and grubs. For this reason, only take action against the mole crickets in the event of major damage.

Tips for combating mole crickets

One environmentally sound control method is to encourage crickets' natural enemies. These include hedgehogs, shrews, moles, cats, chickens and blackbirds. In addition, you can take direct action against the insects with parasitic nematodes: So-called SC nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae) are available from specialist retailers via order cards and are applied in June / July with a watering can with lukewarm, stale tap water. They mainly kill the adult insects, against their larvae they are less effective.

If the infestation is very severe, you should dig up and destroy the breeding caves from June onwards. Feel the corridors with your finger or a small stick. If they suddenly branch off into the depths, the breeding cave is in the immediate vicinity.

The mole crickets can be caught alive with a special trap construction. Dig two smooth-walled containers (mason jars or large tin cans) directly into the vegetable patch or on the lawn and place a thin wooden board upright in the middle of the container openings. The nocturnal mole crickets usually only dare to reach the surface in the protection of darkness and, like many small animals, like to move along an elongated obstacle, because they feel particularly safe here. So they are led directly into the pitfalls. You should collect the captured animals first thing in the morning and release them on the green meadow at a sufficient distance from the garden. The trap method is particularly successful during the mating season from April to early June.

Do you also have problems with voles in your garden?

In this video, plant doctor René Wadas tells you what you can do against voles in the garden.

Plant doctor René Wadas explains in an interview how voles can be combated in the garden
Video and editing: CreativeUnit / Fabian Heckle