Gryllotalpidae - Introduction
Mole crickets are brownish-tan in color and are often covered with velvety pubescence. The fore-legs of mole crickets are quite interesting, being enlarged and modified into broad spade like appendages that are used for digging and tunneling through the soil, and also possessing the tympanum, or ear of the insect. Male mole crickets produce sound by rubbing their forewings together. These sounds are used to form a "call" that is species specific, and is used to attract a mate. Some species construct their tunnels in such a way that it will amplify their calls. Mole crickets are omnivorous with some species being primarily herbivorous, and others mostly carnivorous. Most species inhabit moist, often sandy soils near bodies of water. The one main exception would be the Gryllotalpa major Saussure
, the prairie mole cricket. This species seems to be limited to inhabiting high quality remnants of tall grass prairie. There are a couple of southeastern records for this species in the Southeastern U. S., probably from Black Belt and Jackson prairie remnants, however most of the suitable habitat for this species has been destroyed and recent surveys have failed to locate any populations. In some parts of the Southeast, mostly in the Coastal Plain area, mole crickets, particuarly those in the genus Scapteriscus
, are considered pests, and may do damage to food crops, as well as damaging pastures and turf grasses. There are about 60 known species of mole crickets in the world from every continent except Antarctica. Six species are known to occur in the Southeastern United States.