Recent weather conditions have been perfect breeding for Crane fly ( Daddy long legs) The fly lays its eggs in the ground usually a lawn in August / September depending on the soil temperature. Once the eggs hatch a maggot like larvae ( nicknamed Leather jackets) emerges, it starts to eat the grass stem and roots of the grass just below the soil surface. The larvae have no legs are cylindrical in shape and brown grey in colour with a set of jaw like mandibles at one end. The larvae start to feed from early Autumn and depending on the level of infestation, significant damage usually starts to appear in November and December although they will continue to grow and do more damage through winter and early spring.
Leatherjacket Damage To Lawns
If left unattended the leather jackets can strip whole lawns. The grass turns brown as the roots are destroyed. Bare patches of lawn are usually quickly colonised by moss and weeds, preventing the grass from taking in moisture, weakening and killing the grass.
Tell Tale Signs
Yellowing grass when there is plenty of rain. Bare patches appear near shaded areas. Birds pecking at your lawn ripping up grass and thatch to get at the leather jackets.
How To Control Leather Jacket Larvae In Your Lawn
Call your local Lawn & Weed Expert to help. Once an infestation has been identified we will recommend the following.
Application of liquid insecticide to control the larvae. This is sprayed in liquid form and is very effective in controlling the larvae. One or a maximum of two treatments in either the Autumn and spring are enough to control the larvae. It is a very reliable method of control. It is better to catch the infestation early before too much damage has been done
There is also a granular version of the treatment that is spread on your lawn as a preventative measure in the summer to control the leather jackets.
Nematodes, are a small worm like insect that are introduced into lawns in August or during dry weather. They eat the leather Jacket (larvae of the Crane Fly or Daddy long legs ). We have had mixed results with this method.
Leather jackets will eat the grass roots and shoots just below the surface. They do not eat weeds or moss. If you had a serious infestation then some of the roots will be destroyed and the grass is unlikely to grow back. Depending on the level of damage we recommend you spray herbicide to control weeds. Use moss control to kill the moss – scarify to remove dead moss and then aerate to improve ventilation and top dress and over seed applying a slow controlled release fertiliser.