On a hot day in early September, golf course superintendent Scott Brickley found a mole cricket on his golf course. No big deal, right? Wrong. Brickley’s course, Bunker Hill Golf Course, is located in Medina, Ohio. What was the mole cricket doing up North?
It wasn’t the first time that Brickley found the Southern-based insect on the course, an 18-hole public design, where he has been the superintendent for 21 years. Two years ago, Brickley discovered mole crickets near two greens. He figured they were transported there in a player’s golf bag — someone who had recently played golf in the South and was teeing it up at Bunker Hill.
“I found them on the collars of two greens, where they were tunneling, which is what disrupts the plant,” Brickley says.
Brickley contacted David Shetlar, Ph.D., in the department of entomology at Ohio State University. Shetlar, known as the “Bug Doctor,” informed Brickley that the type of mole cricket he found on his course is native to the area and, in fact, is native all the way north to the middle providences of Canada.
“Dr. Shetlar made it clear to me that they have always been here,” Brickley says. “You learn something new every day. There are native mole crickets to this area, and there are Southern mole crickets at well.”
Northern mole crickets inhabit the damp margins of ponds and streams and live in burrows in soft ground. They have stubby front legs and large claws, suited for digging.
While Brickley did not have an insecticide to control the mole crickets, he dumped a solution of dishwashing soap and water on the area where the mole crickets were tunneling to “soap them up.” The soap solution irritates the mole crickets and pushes them to the surface.
Considering climate change, Brickley says he would not be surprised to discover Southern mole crickets on the course one day.
“Insects that are typically Southern insects are beginning to migrate north,” he says. “We will see more of this, and it will be an issue down the road.”