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Leatherjackets are the larvae of Crane Flies, often known as the Daddy-long-legs. They consist of several Tipula sp. The adults will lay their eggs in grass and turf from August to October, where the eggs then develop into larvae that will remain in the soil and are fairly inactive in the winter months. In mild winters, however, the larvae can continue to be active and may start to feed from February in such conditions.
The Leatherjacket larvae feed on grass roots, which causes brown areas to develop in lawns. The Leatherjackets will eventually kill the grass roots, if they are present in high numbers. High rainfall often brings the Leatherjackets to the surface, even in the winter. As they are surfaced, their presence is identified by birds and animals that will be attracted to eat them. This can result in areas of lawns being dug up by birds such as crows and starlings, or animals such as badgers, and this secondary damage is often worse than the primary damage caused by the Leatherjacket feeding.
The only control method for Leatherjackets, available to gardeners in the U.K, is the use of nematodes to kill the Leatherjacket larvae. The optimum period to apply these nematodes to lawns is from late August and through September, when the soil is warmer and better suited to nematode activity. Early applications of nematodes can also be attempted in the spring, if there is evidence of Leatherjacket activity. This will not be as effective, however, as applications later in the year. The percentage of Leatherjackets that the nematodes kill will be lower in these winter and spring applications, as the soil is cold and often the Leatherjacket larvae are too large. One or two applications of nematodes in the late summer, with moist soil or turf at the time of application, will give the best results.
For lawns that have suffered damage, help them recover with our Lawn Grub Repair Boost. This natural biostimulant enhances root and lawn growth and helps stimulate microbial activity in the lawn. This leads to the establishment of healthier lawns. The boost can also be used in combination with nematode treatments.