Mole crickets, Tobacco Cricket (Brachytrupes spp.)
Mole crickets are a local sporadic pest of many crops including tobacco, tomato, tea and cotton. They have been reported as major pests of eggplants in Ghana. seedlings are particularly vulnerable.
Mole crickets live in the soil, feeding on the roots of many vegetables, leaving the clean-cut stem. They leave their burrows at night to cut and forage for seedlings and drag them down into the soil or leave them wilting on the surface for a few days before being taken into the burrow. Their underground burrows reaching a depth of 60-80 cm. They prefer mainly sandy soils where the adults can easily burrow.
The adult is fat and 5 cm long, the adult female will live 3-4 months and lay over 300 eggs. Male mole crickets sing by stridulating, always underground, to attract females.
- Hand pick adults from their burrows.
- Sprinkle wood ash in nursery.
- Plough deep to destroy burrows.
- Expose insects to predators. Large ground beetles, frogs and birds prey on mole crickets.
- A few 1-cm-wide openings may be found around the damaged plants. The mole crickets can be forced into the open and captured when water is poured into the burrows.
- Sound trapping: accoustic traps caught an other cricket (Gryllotalpa africana / CABI) species so it it could be tried out.