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Mole Cricket - Neoscapteriscus borellii - male

Mole Cricket - Neoscapteriscus borellii - Male
Auburn, Lee County, Alabama, USA
August 18, 2005
Size: 50mm
This mole cricket exhibited interesting nocturnal behavior. It was in constant motion devouring small insects and centipedes. It occasionally flew short distances. I believe this specimen to be the European mole cricket (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa)because of its large size and the fact that it is more numerous in the East. Comments welcomed.

Images of this individual: tag all
Mole Cricket - Neoscapteriscus borellii - male Mole Cricket - Neoscapteriscus borellii - male


Moved from Mole Crickets.

Mole Cricket
There are 3 Mole Crickets indigenous to the USA. Only one is Carniverous. Two species are present as pests along the southeastern coast, the tawny mole cricket (Scapteriscus vicinus) and the southern mole cricket (S. borellii). The tawny is the most destructive species of mole cricket since it feeds almost exclusively on the roots and shoots of grass. Southern mole crickets may feed a little on the roots, but are primarily predators feeding on small creatures that live in the soil. Both species do considerable tunneling. I notice the Ibises in florida feeding on The Southern Mole Cricket in the grass. I picked one up one evening to examine it more closely, only to find that they do in fact bite, Not hard enough to break the skin, but hard enough to make me drop it.

Mole cricket possibilities and keys
Singing Insects of North America says European mole cricket, Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa is only found in New Jersey, and this is the only species in genus from Eastern North America. I think this is one of the other two genera. See SINA key, and also photo comparing Neocurtilla and Scapteriscus, and showing the different species of Scapteriscus.

Compare forelegs and coloration of these critters:

Northern Mole Cricket, Neocurtilla hexadactyla

This has four digging "claws", all in a row on foretarsi. This forms a sort of paddle shape, and to me, really resembles the forelegs on a real (mammalian) mole.

Southern Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus borellii

This has two digging "claws" on foretarsi and two "claws" back on the foretibia, jutting out at a different angle. Also, coloration is rather different, with dark pronotum with light spots. (All the photo I've seen show this character, at least.)

I think yours is Southern Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus borellii. I think I can see the structure on the forelegs--the claws jutting up, is correct for the genus. Also, the coloration looks correct for that species.

Looking at SINA, I see that the Tawny Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus vicinus is found in Alabama.

Closeups of the forelegs would be helpful, if you have them, at least for verifying the genus.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

Thanks, Patrick, for your com
Thanks, Patrick, for your comments and possible ID's for the mole cricket. Note the close up image of the foretarsi of this specimen which I have added to this page. I believe it to be a Northern Mole Cricket, Neocurtilla hexadactyla in that it seems to have four digging "claws", all in a row on foretarsi. Would appreciate your thoughts as well as any others.

Those tricky claws, hmm.
Hmm. I'll try to link some images under that photo. I've seen a grand total of one of each of those genera, of course.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

You could be correct in assum
You could be correct in assuming this is the European mole cricket (I am no expert!). My book says that it will have shorter hind wings than the Northern mole cricket. I can't find any information about them eating insects. My books say they only eat plant roots. Are you sure it was eating them?

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