IPM-144 How to Use Beneficial Nematodes against Pest Mole Crickets in Home Lawns 1 J. L. Gillett, N. C. Leppla and J. H. Frank2 1. This document is IPM-144 (IN674), one of a series of the Entomology and Nematology Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: September 2006. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. J. L. Gillett, assistant director-IPM Florida, N. C. Leppla, professor/director-IPM Florida, and J. H. Frank, professorEntomology and Nematology Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean Mole crickets can damage home lawns in Florida severely, especially in areas with bermudagrass or bahiagrass lawns, but long-term, effective, and safe control can be achieved by applying beneficial nematodes. Nematodes are tiny worms and one of them, Steinernema scapterisci, attacks only pest mole crickets. This nematode is patented by the University of Florida for use against mole crickets and licensed exclusively to Becker Underwood for production and distribution as a biopesticide. It only infects adult and large immature mole crickets (1 1 1/2 inches long) that are most abundant in September through November and February through April in Florida. The nematodes cannot harm children, pets, wildlife, or plants. Figure 1. Mole cricket damage to the turfgrass industry exceeds $100 million per year in the Southeast United States. These beneficial nematodes can be purchased and kept chilled (not frozen) for a few weeks until they are used. They must be applied to moist soil and protected from sunlight. Once in the soil, they enter the mouth or breathing pores of a mole cricket, break into the body cavity, and release a highly specialized bacterium. Bacterial infection kills the mole cricket within a few days as the nematodes reproduce in large numbers. Offspring of the nematodes are spread by the dying mole cricket and are ultimately released back into the soil to repeat the cycle again and again. The nematodes can survive, multiply, and spread as long as some mole crickets are present.
How to Use Beneficial Nematodes against Pest Mole Crickets in Home Lawns 2 Figure 2. Tunnels at the soil surface are a sign of mole cricket infestation. What You Need to Do 1. Check your lawn to determine if it is infested with mole crickets. Signs include patches of dead grass and tunnels visible on the soil surface. In the early morning find a 2 sq. ft. area of grass where you suspect mole crickets are present. Pour over the area a solution made of 1 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent in 1 gallon of water. Control is justified if two to four large mole crickets come to the surface within three minutes. 2. Purchase mole cricket nematodes. The nematodes do not infect small mole crickets, so make sure that they are large (1 1 1/2 inches long) before placing an order. In Florida, adult mole crickets are most abundant in September through November and February through April. The mole cricket nematode is supplied only by Gardens Alive (www.GardensAlive.com, 513-354-1482) for home use in packets to treat 200, 400, or 1,000 sq. ft. areas. Nematode packets should be stored in the refrigerator, but for no more than a few weeks. 3. Apply the nematodes. Apply the nematodes at dawn or dusk, when the area to be treated is not in direct sunlight and is moist from rain or irrigation. Use the entire packet. Mix the nematodes with water in a sprinkling can, shake continuously, and apply immediately over the area to be treated. Irrigate again to wash the nematodes into the soil (about 1/4 inch of water). For more mole cricket control options see: http://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/success-stories/ molecrickets.htm For IPM information on different pests see: http://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/ For everyday solutions for your life see: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/. References http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN249 http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN391