Underground Musician

He sounds like a frog.

Kelly’s Field Notes

Common Name: Mole Cricket

Order: Orthoptera

Family: Gryllotalpidae

Species of Note Near You (There are over 100 species of mole cricket! Three are native to North America.):


Mole crickets are fairly large! Some species of male are around 5 cm (2 in) in length and females can get even bigger at 7 cm (2.8 in). They are dark brown on the topside of their bodies (dorsal) and a light yellow or cream color on their underside (ventral). While they have a pair of wings, in some species the hind wings are too short to use for flight. Their front legs are used for digging, resembling toothed shovels. You can distinguish between species by the number and shape of their dactyls (the toothed parts of the limb). Their hind legs look like a more traditional cricket’s but they are mainly used to push soil and dig - mole crickets are very poor jumpers.

Mole crickets live nearly their entire lives underground. They create a series of tunnels for movement and feeding and escaping predators. Males enlarge the opening of their tunnels into horn-shapes in the evening, to amplify their courtship song. Females may steal that burrow after mating.

Because they burrow in the upper part of the soil, they tend to cause a lot of havoc for plants trying to germinate or remain moist. They cause ridges above their tunnels which can dry out soils and harm roots. 

Life Cycle: 

Our friends the mole crickets undergo incomplete metamorphosis: egg, nymph, adult. They begin life as an egg, with 25-100 of their siblings, buried in the soil, hatching in a few weeks (10 to 40 days). Depending on the species, the mother will either leave the eggs or stay in an adjacent chamber to tend to them. Also species dependent, the mother may lay more clutches over a period of several months. The eggs start out looking like dried beans, but grow and smooth as they absorb water. If the mother does not lay them in a moist enough environment they will not hatch.

Once the eggs hatch, it will take nymphal mole crickets a few months to reach adulthood. Depending on species, mole crickets are either herbivores, omnivores, or predacious. The Southern mole cricket (Neoscapteriscus borellii) is a well known predatory species. Nymphs tunnel just like their parents! They come to the surface in the evenings to hunt or forage. Mole crickets go through 5 instars, which may take 7 to 10 molting events to get through before becoming adults.

Mole crickets can overwinter as nymphs or adults.

Super Powers:

Mole Crickets in Culture:


Bennet-Clark, H. C. "The mechanism and efficiency of sound production in mole crickets." Journal of Experimental Biology 52.3 (1970): 619-652.

“European Mole Cricket.” Ufl.edu, 2024, entnemdept.ufl.edu/molecrickets/mcri003c.htm. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

“Meet the Mole Cricket – the Platypus of the Insect World.” Australian Geographic, 21 Oct. 2018, www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/creatura-blog/2018/10/meet-the-mole-cricket-the-platypus-of-the-insect-world/.

“Mole Crickets - Neoscapteriscus Spp.” Entnemdept.ufl.edu, entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/turf/pest_mole_crickets.htm.

‌“Names, Origins, and Distribution of Mole Crickets.” Entnemdept.ufl.edu, entnemdept.ufl.edu/molecrickets/MCRI0200.HTM.

"northern mole cricket (Neocurtilla hexactyla)." SINA. 2024. Singing Insects of North America [https://orthsoc.org/sina/351a.htm]. 

“Oriental Mole Cricket.” Ufl.edu, 2024, entnemdept.ufl.edu/molecrickets/mcri003d.htm. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

“Southern Mole Cricket.” Ufl.edu, 2024, entnemdept.ufl.edu/molecrickets/mcri003e.htm. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.