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Scapteriscus borellii

Southern Mole Cricket

Synonym(s): Scapteriscus acletus and Unwelcome Mole Cricket
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Family: Gryllotalpidae

Photographer: University of Georgia Archive


Adult Description: The Southern Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus borellii) is a large cricket measuring 25-35 mm with dark pink to brown coloring accompanied with a dark spotted pattern on the pronotum. The body is shaped for burrowing accompanied with large forearms and two dactyls. The call produced is a low-pitched ringing trill that lasts about 50 pulses per second.

Larva Description: Scapteriscus borellii nymphs hatch a pale white color, but becomes dark within 24 hours. After hatching the nymphs may eat the egg shells or cannibalize siblings. The nymphs remain underground, digging extensive tunnels and only come up at night to forage in favorable weather. The wings are underdeveloped in comparison to the adult Southern Mole Cricket.

Host Plant: Not specific, omnivorous

Ecological Threat: The majority of damage caused by the Southern Mole Cricket results from girdling plant roots underground and pulling small plants completely below ground. Small seedlings are at the most risk. Tunneling damage is caused more by the Southern Mole Cricket than other Mole Crickets in the United States. Due to the aggressive tunneling, turf grasses such as bermudagrass is often injured more in comparison to grass with dense growth.

Biology: Female Southern Mole Crickets deposit eggs 5 to 30 cm underground adjacent to a tunnel in average brood sizes of 25 to 60, but as many as 100 have been recorded. Females typically produce 4-5 clutches in a lifetime. The eggs are laid in a loose cluster to allow for enlargement as water is absorbed. Nymphs emerge within 10 to 40 days after laying.

History: The Southern Mole Cricket was first introduced to the United States in 1904 via ship transfer at a harbor in Brunswick. This species continued to be introduced to southeastern states, and in 1925 it was introduced to Port Arthur, Texas.

U.S. Habitat: The Southern Mole Cricket prefers places where it can burrow such as gardens, lawns, and agricultural land.


Native Origin: South America

U.S. Present: Scapteriscus borellii can be found in the Southwest region of the United States ranging from South Carolina to East Texas and North to Georgia and Alabama. Recent reports indicate the Southern Mole Cricket was identified in Yuma, Arizona.


East Texas

Distribution in Texas:


The Southern Mole Cricket is similar to the Shortwinged Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus abbreviatus) and Tawny Mole Cricket (Scapteriscus vicinus). The Southern Mole Cricket can be distinguished from the Shortwinged Mole Cricket by wing length. Southern Mole Cricket hindwings extend past the body while the Shortwinged Mole Crickets wings are shorter than the body. The Tawny Mole Cricket can be distinguished from the Southern Mole Cricket by dactyl shape and call. The Southern Mole Cricket dactyls are separated at the base where they attach to the body, while the Tawny Mole Cricket dactyls nearly touch at the base.


The Southern Mole Cricket is preyed upon by toads, sandhill cranes, and armadillos which are native to North America. Other predators have been introduced in attempts to control the Southern Mole Cricket such as the nematode Steinernema scapterisci, which was introduced from Uruguay in 1985. Other methods of control involve insecticides applied to the soil surface followed by irrigation. Some forms of bait are also available that should not be combined with irrigation and rainfall.


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Text References

Braman S. K., Pendley A. F., Carrow R. N., Engelke M.C. 1994. Potential resistance in zoyziagrasses to tawny mole crickets (Orthoptera: Gyrllotalpidae). Florida Entomologist 77: 301-305.

Matheny, Jr. E. L., Tsedeke, A., Smittle, B. J. 1981. Feeding response of mole cricket nymphs (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae: Scapteriscus) to radiolabeled grasses with, and without, alternative foods available. Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society 16: 492-495.

Nickle, D. A., Castner, J. L. 1984. Introduced species of mole crickets in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 77: 450-465.

Walker, T. J., Ngo, D. 1982. Mole crickets and pasture grasses: damage by Scapteriscus vicinus, but not by S. acletus (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae). Florida Entomologist 65: 300-306.

Internet Sources

Data Source

Last Updated: 2011-09-15 by Amber Bartelt - Sam Houston State University