The forerunner to the Molecrickets website was called MCricket — Alternative Methods for Mole Cricket Control. It was the inspiration of Thomas R. Fasulo (website design) and J. Howard Frank (text) and underwent review by extension specialists Harold C. Jones and M. LaRue Robinson. MCricket was unveiled in 1995 and also was made available for sale on floppy disk. The purpose was to explain problems in Florida with pest mole crickets and how the University of Florida/IFAS Mole Cricket Research Program was combatting them by using biological control.
The research program had been begun in 1979 for the benefit of Florida’s ranchers, but the information was seen to be of interest also to golf course superintendents, homeowners, playing-field managers, and vegetable growers. A document, Mole Crickets in Florida, edited by T.J. Walker, had been released in 1985 as Bulletin 846 in December 1984 by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. Low cost, ease of update with new knowledge, and wide dissemination were major factors in the decision to produce MCricket.
MCricket continued to expand. Fasulo had help from his team of computer specialists (Andrew D. Koehler, Patrick H. Hope, D. Drew Moseley, Maritza I. Romero, and Gregory A. Wrey) and converters of a word-processing program to HTML (Everett Y. Yang, Eric R. Johnson, Daniel R. Nichols, Charles V. Rivas, and Andrew P. Miller). He decided to include tutorials, which were compiled with the help of Donald E. Short and graphic designers Jane C. Medley, D. Drew Moseley and Maritza Romero. He called on Lyle J. Buss, James L. Castner, Paul M. Choate, Khuong Nguyen, Susan A. Wineriter, and David A. Nickle for photographs, J. Patrick Parkman for information and graphics, Grover C. Smart for information and review, and Thomas J. Walker for review. Aaron S. Weed, a graduate student supported by extension funds, was asked to develop wording about mole crickets in pastures.
The UF/IFAS Mole Cricket Research Program ended in 2004, by which time a revised CD-ROM version of MCricket had been issued based on the expanded website. The success of that research program was documented in 2006 by J. Howard Frank and Thomas J. Walker: “Permanent control of pest mole crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae: Neoscapteriscus) in Florida,” American Entomologist 52: 138-144. In 2013 a graduate student in economics at Florida A&M University, Grace J. Mhina, submitted an M.S. thesis entitled “The cost effectiveness of biological control: the case of invasive mole crickets in Florida commercial pastureland,” based on costs and results of the research project.
In 1996, the nematode Steinernema scapterisci, which had been developed by the research program and subsequently marketed commercially by industry, ceased to be produced and sold. Norman C. Leppla, UF/IFAS IPM Coordinator, worked to find a new producer/ marketer. Soon afterward, he instigated a project called the Statewide Mole Cricket Project. This generated interest in use of the nematode, which then was applied in several additional counties. By 2009 sales of the nematode were still low, so in 2010 Frank and Leppla began a one-year extension project to demonstrate the use of the nematode applied subsurface. They also demonstrated the use of the wasp Larra bicolor by strategically planting its nectar-source plant. Frank and Leppla visited pastures in several counties, at each site working with the county livestock extension agents and inviting an audience.
Frank wrote a new section of MCricket called Mole Crickets for Ranchers, designed and developed by Kay Weigel, to explain this new section to ranchers. In 2014, it was clear that MCricket was trying to serve too many purposes, and a split was in order. Pest Mole Crickets and Their Control is a successor to Mole Crickets for Ranchers that has added information for additional crops and for turf. Mole Crickets and Their Natural Enemies, the site you are viewing, has general information about behavior, ecology, and distribution, suitable for the general public and for teaching.
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