The dreaded leather jackets in garden lawns

The dreaded leather jackets in garden lawns

31st Mar 2021 Diseases

Bad news first... Leather jackets can cause extensive damage to lawns. 

The Leatherjacket is the larvae of the Crane fly (Daddy longlegs). Crane flies lay their eggs onto grass areas, including lawns from around September time. 

When the eggs hatch into small larvae they start to feed on the roots of the grass.  At this stage the damage will be minimal, however by February/March time when the larvae have grown, they can really cause severe damage. 

To begin with you may notice bare patches appearing in the lawn, if you lift an area and it comes up easily you will know potentially it is caused by leather jackets or other similar grubs such as chafer’s as they eat away at the roots system. 

Further damage can be caused as birds and other animals root down looking for the grubs, the effects of this can be quite devastating.

Treating Leather Jackets.

Unfortunately, some more bad news...There are no chemical treatments on the market to control leather jacket infestations.

If you see crane flies (Daddy Long legs) flying around the garden consider increasing your mowing regime for a short period of time by removing the grass clippings you will also remove any eggs that have been hatched before they get a chance to germinate.

You could also consider a way to encourage any grubs to the surface, for example use a plastic sheeting, wet an area on the lawn and cover for a couple of days, any grubs will come to the surface.

Nematodes are available on the market, these are natural parasites which attack the grubs, however they are expensive to buy, difficult to store and complicated to apply.

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