African Mole Cricket
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The African mole cricket is native to Africa but local populations exist in Asia, Australia and southern Europe. Most of the damage caused by this small yellow brown cricket (25 to 33 mm) occurs in the root system. The larvae and adults make galleries in the soil and feed on earthworms and other insects, as well as on roots or young tubers, reducing the vigor of plants. The insect occasionally cuts off young plants at the base of the stem and drags them into its burrow. Damage is greatest immediately after transplanting young seedlings. They leave the ground in the evening and at night.
The African mole cricket lives in moist, loose soil where it makes galleries and damages roots. The depth of the holes depends on the temperatures, they are digging deeper in winter. Its body is designed for a life underground: short antennae, thickened forelegs and highly chitinized armature in the lower abdomen. After mating in the soil, females build nests at a depth of 03-04 m and lay around 200 elongated eggs. Well-irrigated and well fertilized fields with loose soils favor the development of the pest. Mass emergence after wintering is usually observed at temperatures of 12-15°C.
Natural enemies of the African Mole cricket include certain birds, insectivorous mammals, egg-eating ants and mites, and some nematodes. Fungal diseases may also inflict severe damage to the pest. For example, the fungus Beauveria bassiana parasitizes on the nymphs and adults, mostly after heavy rainfall.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Soil fumigation can be used if the insect is found at superficial depths. Applying micro-granules of isoxathion during the active period of the mole cricket can prevent injury. Poisoned baits could also be used to trap and kill the cricket. Insecticides based on pyrethroid have been used, along with heavy irrigation, to facilitate penetration into the soil.
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