What are mole crickets?
Mole crickets are members of the insect family Gryllotalpidae, in the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets). Mole crickets are cylindrical-bodied insects about 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) long as adults, with small eyes and shovel-like fore limbs highly developed for burrowing. They are present in many parts of the world and where they have arrived in new regions, may become agricultural pests.
Mole crickets have three life stages, eggs, nymphs, and adults. Most of their lives in these stages is spent underground, but adults have wings and disperse in the breeding season. They vary in their diet; some species are vegetarian, mainly feeding on roots; others are omnivores, including worms and grubs in their diet, while a few are largely predatory. Male mole crickets have an exceptionally loud song; they sing from a subsurface burrow that opens out into the air in the shape of an exponential horn. The song is an almost pure tone, modulated into chirps. It is used to attract females, either for mating, or for indicating favourable habitats for them to lay their eggs.
In Zambia, mole crickets are thought to bring good fortune, while in Latin America, they are said to predict rain. In Florida, where Neoscapteriscus mole crickets are not native, they are considered pests, and various biological controls have been used. Gryllotalpa species have been used as food in West Java, Vietnam, and the Philippines.