Mole Cricket, a jumping orthopterous insect, of the genus gryllotalpa (Latr.), meaning cricket mole. The European mole cricket (G. vulgaris, Latr.) has a most extraordinary and ugly form; it is nearly 2 in. long and 1/3 of an inch wide, and of a dark brown color; the head, retractile within the prothorax, has two long and strong antennae in front of its black reticulated eves; the thorax is elevated and crab-like, covered with a velvety down; the wings, which when expanded are broad and triangular, when folded extend like two ribbons over the abdomen; the abdomen, soft and with nine or ten segments, has two filaments at the end as long as the antennae; the fore legs are short, broad, and strong, the shanks being very wide, flat, and three-sided, with four finger-like projections on the lower side, giving very much the appearance and the digging powers of the hands of the mole, whence the generic name. It lays 200 or 300 eggs in June in a gourd-shaped hollow in the earth, about 2 in. long, having a winding communication with the surface; the young are hatched in five or six weeks, and resemble black ants, not arriving at maturity till the third year; both young and old commit great ravages by feeding on the tender roots of grass, culinary vegetables, and flowers; they also eat insects and worms, and themselves furnish food for moles, lizards, snakes, and other insectivorous animals.
The males emit a pleasing sound at night, at which time they are the most active. Rosel says this insect can push forward on a level surface a weight of 6 lbs. with its fore feet. They rarely appear on the surface, but their presence may be known by the withered patches in the field and garden, and their retreats detected by the little hills of fresh earth, smaller than those of moles, which they throw up in soft and moist places. Late in autumn they bury themselves deep in the ground, coming again to the surface in the warm days of spring. The surest way to prevent their depredations is to dig up the nests and destroy the eggs; another way is to pour boiling water into their holes. The American species (G. borealis) is about 1 1/4 in. long, of a bright bay or fawn color, with the wing covers not half the length of the abdomen, and the tips of the folded wings extending only one third of an inch beyond the covers. The G. didactyla (Latr.), having only two finger-like projections on the fore legs, has proved very destructive to the sugar cane in the West Indies and South America.
Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa borealis).