Mole crickets belong to the family Gryllotalpidae. Some of these crickets are known as pests that damage grass and turf. In some areas, they are considered the most significant pest of turf and grass. They are found on every continent except for Antarctica.
Mole crickets are nocturnal omnivores that live primarily underground and hibernate in winter. They measure 2 to 4 cm in length and are thick-bodied. One of the most interesting and bizarre features of mole cricket anatomy is their forelimbs that are broad and spade-shaped with claws. The forelimbs of the mole cricket are highly developed mechanisms used for burrowing. Mole crickets are capable of flight and may travel as far as five miles during mating season.
The most common mole cricket species are the western mole cricket, the European mole cricket, the northern mole cricket, the southern mole cricket, the short-winged mole cricket and the tawny mole cricket. Mole crickets are divided between two-clawed and four-clawed species.
Many of the U.S. pest species are not native. The native northern and western mole crickets are not considered pests as are immigrant species such as the European, short-winged, southern and tawny mole crickets. In the United States, mole crickets are most commonly found in the southern half of the country.