The grillotalpa is an insect belonging to the genus of Orthoptera and to the family of Gryllotalpidae. In spite of the name, the grillotalpa does not look good, but if only for this reason it could also be postponed. Unfortunately, this insect often infests the grounds of vegetable gardens, gardens and nurseries, causing severe damage to plants. There are no species excluded from the damage of this insect: vegetables, flowering plants and tubers do not resist the harmful action of the grillotalpa, considered one of the most common and at the same time formidable parasites of plants.
The grillotalpa it has a brown or reddish color, with a body formed by a head, a rather long and slender thorax and shorter front legs used to dig tunnels in the ground. The insect, in its adult form, is 40 mm to five centimeters long, is ovoviparous and lays eggs on the ground in late spring. The reproductive capacity of the grillotalpa it is very high, with the deposition of about three hundred ovaries per year. The larvae have the shape of a nymph, very similar to the adult insect, but smaller in size and with a lighter color tending to yellow. The nymphs overwinter in summer and after a short period of care by the mother, they begin to be autonomous and to dig tunnels in the ground. The period between the nymph stage and the adult insect is about two years.
The grillotalpa usually infests the grounds of vegetable gardens and gardens. It prefers untreated flower beds or lawns. The soil is the ideal habitat for the grillotalpa which generally spends its entire life there, digging holes and tunnels from twenty centimeters to one meter long. During this "excavation" activity, the grillotalpa erodes the roots of plants and tubers. The main damage to plant species occurs precisely in the roots, because the insect is not perfectly phytophagous, although it does not disdain to feed on the roots of flowering plants, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peppers and beets. The root system, damaged by the insect, appears bitten and the plants, especially the younger ones, unable to absorb the nutrients from the soil, end up drying up irretrievably.
The grillotalpa is attracted to soft, humid and poorly cared for soils. Poor maintenance of the turf and poor care of the flower beds can attract this insect, prompting it to settle permanently within the soil of our vegetable garden or garden. Residues of dried leaves, potato skins, remains of carrots or other flowering and horticultural plants, must be promptly eliminated from the soil, as they attract the insect making it believe it can feed on their roots. The remains of plants rich in starch or other organic substances must also be removed from the soil, which by decomposing further moisten the soil. Other factors that can attract the grillotalpa, a fertilizer based on unripe compost. The more humid an organic fertilizer is, the more conditions are created to attract the insect.
The fight against grillotalpa can be implemented through chemical or biological remedies. The first consist in the adoption of poisoned baits, or baits impregnated with aromatic carbamates, highly toxic compounds not only for the insect, but also for the environment. On the market there is a compound for poisonous baits, called Methiocarb, based on carbamates. The baits should be inserted into the ground in order to kill the insect during the excavation and root erosion phase. Unfortunately, poisons are also toxic to the soil, plants and birds that find themselves pecking at the same bait. To reduce the risk of toxicity on plants and soil, the baits (remains of carrots, apples or potatoes) can be placed in a plastic container, perhaps an empty bottle for mineral water, cut in half and buried inside. the substance impregnated with poison. Poisoned baits should be placed on the ground in the period between April and May, that is when the eggs are laid. The collection of dead insects must be done during the early hours of the morning to prevent the birds from dying by feeding on the poisoned specimens. Another valid method of fighting the grillotalpa, the biological one. In nature there are natural predators of the grillotalpa: these are the cat, the hedgehog, the shrew, some species of birds of prey, blackbirds and hoopoe.
Biodynamics is a discipline that offers natural remedies to solve various common problems, such as the treatment of plant diseases or others. This discipline also suggests advice to get rid of the grillotalpa. A very effective biodynamic remedy against the grillotalpa is to place, along the edges of the ground, a plastic bottle cut in half and filled with pieces of vegetables or beer. The trap should be covered with a tile to prevent rain from entering and to create darkness. After a few days, attracted by the organic residues of the bottle, the grillotalpa will end up inside. At this point they can be burned, distributing the ash obtained on the ground. The remains of the burnt insects represent toxins for the grillotalpas, who will keep away from the “contaminated” area.
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The grillotalpa is unmistakable among orthoptera due to its particular conformation : tawny-brown in color and covered with a velvety down, it can reach 5 centimeters in length and is characterized by forelimbs changed into fossorial legs, widened and flattened , robust and toothed, suitable for digging    . It is able to fly if it needs it : the front wings are short while the rear ones, more developed, are longer than the elytra  . The male has a stridulating organ , while the female lacks the external ovipositor typical of other ensifers .
The grillotalpa digs its burrow just below the surface of the ground, creating a tunnel the diameter of a finger that is also visible from the outside, since it causes a slight elevation of the soil  it prefers soft and humid soils, especially peaty ones or rich in humus   . Mating takes place between May and June and the eggs are laid in larger underground chambers, which the female remains to supervise . Each nest can contain up to 300-400 eggs, which are grouped in spherical oothecae no larger than a tennis ball  . The life cycle is biennial: hatching takes place about twenty days after egg laying, but the young remain in the den until the second moult, in autumn, after which they descend to a depth of one meter to overwinter, and in spring they re-emerge passing in the state of nymphs the adult appears in summer and winters a second time  . The female is mature and can lay eggs in the third year of life , an unparalleled longevity among orthoptera .
Although also feeding on the larvae of other insects, including some harmful ones, the grillotalpa is considered harmful for agriculture because it feeds on the roots of plants and tubers    . It has several natural enemies, including small mammals (shrew, hedgehog, mole) and birds (starling, hoopoe, blackbird)  .
The grillotalpa is widespread almost throughout Europe, with the exception of some northern countries (Iceland, Norway, Finland) and in Corsica where it is not reported   . It is also present in northern Africa and western Asia   and has also been unintentionally imported into the eastern United States, probably with loads of ornamental plants  .
The grillotalpa can be very harmful for crops and is polyphagous, feeding on a very wide range of plants, of which it attacks in particular the roots as well as eating them, it cuts them to dig its tunnels and even those that are not damaged in this way suffer the effects of soil drying due to its action   . It is therefore one of the most dangerous species for crops in Europe and Western Asia until the 1980s in the Stavropol region 'it regularly caused the loss of 30% of plants in tulip and gladiolus fields, while other studies have found extensive damage to fields of cotton in Azerbaijan . A study conducted in Italy classified it as the insect that causes the most damage to the turf of parks, sports fields and golf meadows, a situation often worsened by crows digging the grass in search of its larvae .
To combat it, it is possible to destroy its tunnels and nests by digging the ground, especially from the end of May to the end of June  , or it can be trapped by burying glass jars flush with the ground  . Overwintering specimens are attracted to horse manure, which can be used to flush out and then kill them . Among the chemical remedies are indicated pyrethrum (which is also compatible with organic farming) , methiocarb , kerosene and azadirachtin . It is also possible to fight it by favoring the presence of its natural predators  as well as artificially spreading other organisms harmful to it, such as nematodes of the genus Steinernema (in particular S. scapterisci is S. carpocapsae), challenges him Larra bicolor, the carabids of the genus Stenaptinus, the Brazilian red fly Depleted ormia and some species of mushrooms, for example Beauveria bassiana is Metarhizium anisopliae  .
In rugby, the term "grillotalpa" is used to indicate a player's ability to slip into ruck and steal the ball from the opponents because it refers to the ability of the grillotalpa to use the front legs to forcefully "extract" the ground (in the case of rugby the oval) .
To delete the Grillotalpa we can first of all create the optimal living conditions for its natural enemies, such as i Curls. Furthermore, a digging of the soil in June near the tunnels, also visible on the surface, will allow us to destroy the eggs.
For more important invasions we can use a specific granular insecticide against insects living in the ground, such as the Grillotalpa is Elaterids. It can also be used in the vegetable garden and has no shortage times.
When working the soil in the garden before sowing, pay attention to the presence of these small larvae. If so, treat the area with a specific granular insecticide and suitable for the protection of the root systems of horticultural crops.
Since it is a pesticide, follow the instructions carefully and do not exceed the dosages.
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The grillotalpa is an orthopteran, the most learned can call it with the scientific name of Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa, it is quite easy to recognize even if, being a nocturnal insect that lives underground, it is not encountered very often.
It is not difficult to identify its presence, easily identifiable because it provokes characteristic holes in the ground. The tunnels of this insect are generally 6/8 centimeters in diameter, the grillotalpa digs at varying depths from a few centimeters up to 20/30 cm in depth.
When the garden plants dry out for apparently inexplicable reasons, this insect could be the culprit. To verify it, it is necessary to see if the roots or tubers in the subsoil have been gnawed and if there are traces of the tunnels.
How to fight and eliminate gryllotalpa : the only possible fight is that by means of poisoned baits based on methiocarb-1 which is easy to find in specialized shops, but also a product based on very fine granules that must be disseminated on the ground, a product also suitable for the fight against other terrestrial insects .
The fight is effective, but care must be taken to remove dead insects early in the morning because otherwise they could be preyed upon by birds which in turn would be poisoned.
Other plants seriously damaged by the grillotalpa include pumpkin, cucumber, courgette and potato.