The Mole Cricket has an apt name – it is a cricket (an insect) that burrows and tunnels like a mole (insectivore-mammal). They are generally small and grow to about 5 cm. Most mole crickets have wings and can fly. Often their flight is very weak and clumsy. However, they can dig very well, particularly through sandy soil.
If you wondered what tools a mole cricket uses to dig through soil, take a close look at its front legs. Their front legs are strong and modified into spade-like structures and are equipped with flat finger-like spines, which help them move earth as they burrow.
They can dig rapidly. As they work their way through the soil, they leave behind a trail of soil displaced by the digging activity. This adaptation to tunnel through soil is very useful since they spend most of their lives underground. Female mole crickets excavate chambers and lay eggs in them. In some species the female closes the entrance to the chamber and will not visit the eggs. However, some return to take care of the eggs and the young ones.
Mole crickets are voracious feeders. Being omnivores they eat a large variety of insect larvae and other small creatures besides feeding on plants. Sometimes, they are known to spoil lawns and damage food crops because of their burrowing nature.
Mole crickets are active by night. Sometimes, they stray into our houses attracted by light. They are completely harmless and do not bite or sting. They also do not damage paper, fabric or for that matter anything in the house. They are capable of running quite fast. If you are quick and manage to catch one, try and have a closer look at this formidable digger before you release it safely outdoors!