What are those mounds in your yard?
The rains we have received over the last few days have brought welcome relief to our lawns, as well as some unwelcome mound-building by a secretive insect called the short-tailed cricket. These crickets look similar to the common field cricket, but they have a short ovipositor (thus the name short-tailed cricket), and have small wings as adults.
Short-tailed crickets live in burrows below the turf, and rarely leave them except at night to feed or mate. Adult females begin to lay eggs in late spring or early summer. The eggs hatch, and the nymphs live in the same burrow until they molt 3-5 times (become teenagers).
This occurs around mid to late summer. Then they strike out on their own to construct their own burrow. As they continue to grow, they make their burrows bigger and dig them deeper into the soil. You can tell how many short-tailed crickets are in your lawn because each mound contains only one cricket.
These crickets feed on grass, weeds and pine seedlings, but the damage they cause to turf in negligible, with the exception of their visible mounds. Their burrows tend to show up beginning in October through November as the crickets become bigger. They will re-excavate the mounds each time it rains.
We typically don't recommend controlling them because they don't cause any serious damage to the turf. Some people don't like the visible mounds in their lawns, which will reappear each time it rains. An insecticide that is registered for late summer or fall control of white grubs and other soil insects will reduce short-tailed crickets.
For more information contact the OSU Extension Center, 14001 Acme Road, corner of MacArthur and Acme Road in Shawnee or 273-7683.