Three species of mole crickets were inadvertently introduced to the southeastern United States about 1900, and have caused serious plant damage.
The introduced species are: the short-winged mole cricket, Scapteriscus abbreviatus Scudder; the southern mole cricket, Scapteriscus borellii Giglio-Tos (known until recently as S. acletus Rehn and Hebard); and the tawny mole cricket, Scapteriscus vicinus Scudder.
These are not the only mole crickets found in North America, but they are the most damaging. For example, a native species, the northern mole cricket, Neocurtilla hexadactyla (Perty), is widely distributed in the eastern states west to about South Dakota and Texas, and including southern Ontario, but is not a pest.
The European mole cricket, Gyllotalpa gryllotalpa (Linnaeus), has been introduced from Europe into the northeastern states, but is of minor significance. Changa, Scapteriscus didactylus (Latreille), invaded Puerto Rico from South America prior to 1800, and has caused considerable damage to crops on this island, but does not occur elsewhere in the United States.
In the years since introduction to the United States, the Scapteriscus spp. have expanded their ranges, but they differ considerably in their current distribution.
The short-winged mole cricket, which is flightless, remains fairly confined to the southern Florida and southern Georgianortheast Florida introduction sites, though it also occurs in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It has been redistributed in southern Florida, but is largely found in coastal areas.
In contrast, the southern mole cricket is now found from North Carolina to eastern Texas, including the northern regions of Georgia and Alabama and the entire peninsula of Florida, and recently was detected in Yuma, Arizona. The tawny mole cricket is somewhat intermediate in its spread; it occurs from North Carolina to Louisiana, and throughout Florida, but thus far remains restricted to the southern coastal plain.
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