Leatherjackets / Daddy-longlegs
Leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies, or daddy-longlegs. One female fly can lay up to 300 eggs in a lawn in late-summer. These hatch after a couple of weeks into grey-black, legless larvae that have a tough, leathery skin, hence the name 'leatherjacket'.
From autumn through to summer, the larvae feed on the roots of plants, eventually growing to 5cm in length before pupating and emerging as adult flies in late-summer.
How will they cause harm to my lawn
If there are sufficient numbers, you will soon realise how destructive a lawn pest leatherjackets are, they can eat the roots to such an extent that you will be able to peel the turf back like rolling a carpet as there is no root structure remaining to hold the turf to the ground, whilst an attack of this magnitude is very rare, it can happen on a lighter scale were as you can have patches of your lawn yellowing and dying off.
The lawn can look a mess and very untidy after an attack from Leatherjackets unfortunately it takes time for the infestation to become noticeable.
What are the signs I might have Leatherjackets?
Signs that you might have Leatherjackets start late July & through August, this is the time that the Crane fly Hatches, mates and returns to the lawn and lays her eggs. The eggs hatch around two weeks later in the soil beneath your turf & start feeding on the roots, as winter comes the feeding slows down however as winter heads into spring the feed vigorously on the roots killing all the nice grass above. If you see Daddy long legs around the lawn on your window sills or flying around your home keep a watch on the lawn, a few are not going to do much harm however if you think you have a large amount i.e. seeing 6-10 at a time buzzing around give us a call for a free check and price if it’s found necessary to apply control methods, prevention is defiantly better and cheaper than the price of repairing a damaged lawn.
Besides the number of daddy-longlegs flying about other signs can be larger number of birds on the lawn, larger birds like starlings rooks and crows feeding, grass yellowing and or patchy, a good way to check is water your lawn in an evening then put a piece of black polyphene or old carpet on the lawn, lift it the next morning and have a look if leatherjackets have come to the surface.
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