Leatherjackets in Lawn

What are Leatherjackets?

A Crane fly is more commonly known as a daddy long legs, and a leatherjacket is the larval form before it becomes a daddy long legs. The Crane fly lays eggs in the lawn and this is a natural cycle that is nothing to be worried about.

When does it occur?

February to October

What to look out for

  • In very rare/ extreme cases, the lawn may become patchy/ very sparse and cause parts of the lawn to die off.
  • Patches that are very dry and the lawn can be peeled away from the soil.
  • When peeling back lawn, there are lots of leatherjacket grubs in the soil beneath. They are a greyish brown colour with a tough skin, where their name comes from. (Not to be confused with Chafer grubs)
  • A noticeably high number of daddy long legs around your garden.

Treating and Preventing Leatherjackets in Lawn

Leatherjackets are a bit of a pain, there is not much you can do to prevent them and there are no chemical controls available. There are ways you can treat them though and methods to help to eradicate them from your garden.

  • Birds and Badgers like to eat them, so let them! They may ruffle your lawn up a little when searching for them but they will help to get rid of the problem whilst the leather jackets are still at the larvae stage.
  • You can remove them by hand (though admittedly, not the most pleasant sounding of jobs!) Soak the lawn then cover badly damaged areas with black polythene overnight and this will encourage the leatherjackets to move to the surface of the lawn. In the morning go outside and remove them.
  • Once the larvae have hatched, the Crayne fly will fly away and continue the life cycle elsewhere.
  • There are biological pest controls available, although they have varying degrees of success. Applying nematodes to your lawn when the first signs of leatherjackets appear, should hopefully stop the problem before the grubs get large enough to start causing damage.
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