Leather Jackets and the Crane Fly | Dr. Green Lawn Care Services

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Leather Jackets and the Crane Fly

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Posted on: Sep 28, 2023Raunie

Lawn insects are a nuisance and the Crane Fly is no exception. Most people have noticed a giant “daddy long-leg mosquito” flying around their property around the end of September into October. But not many people know what they are or the harm they can cause. Crane flies hide in the lawn during the day and come out in the evening to feed. This is why it is rare to see a swarm of them during the day and come home in the evening to your front door covered in them.

Do they harm my lawn?

Crane flies are not actually turf damaging themselves but it’s the larvae that is the problem. The larvae is called a leatherjacket. No, not the stylish fashion accessory, the grey worm-like insect that eats your lawn. When crane flies mate, they can lay up to 350 eggs in your lawn. These eggs hatch into a grey worm with a black head that happily munch on the crown and roots of the grass blade. This results in a weak and thinning lawn.

Symptoms to look if you suspect you have a Crane Fly problem
  1. Are there sections of your lawn that are constantly thin?
  2. Are there spots where you just cannot grow grass no matter what you try?
  3. Have you ever opened your front or back door to find they are covered in these giant mosquito like bugs?
  4. Do you have sections of your lawn that are a lighter green than the rest of the grass?
When do you treat for these pests?

The optimal time to treat crane flies/leather jackets is between October 14th and October 31st. During this period of time the eggs, which have been laid in and below the thatch layer, are hatching and the leather jackets are most vulnerable. Leather jackets do 20% of their damage in the fall and most of the rest the following spring. The fall is the best time to treat for leatherjackets. This is because their larvae hasn’t developed the thick outer shell so they are more susceptible to the application.

How does the treatment work?
  • A liquid product is applied which contains a beneficial nematode that helps to strengthen the roots system of the lawn to lessen the impact of feeding insects.
  • The leatherjacket doesn’t like the taste of the product and stop feeding. Also, the timing of the application is at a time when the insects are young and more vulnerable and wont survive without the nourishment.
  • We provide a service that if a problem persists we will re-evaluate  the problem and provide a different solution if required.

It is important to keep an eye out for the early indicators of this insect to protect your lawn and your investment!