Removing leatherjackets

Revive Your Lawn: Say Goodbye to Pesky Leatherjackets!

yellow grass

Revive Your Lawn: Say Goodbye to Pesky Leatherjackets!

This year it seems like more and more gardens are feeling the devastating effects of leatherjackets, which can wreak havoc to your once beautiful lawn. Recently we’ve seen an influx of media articles and horror stories on social media, highlighting the effects these pesky insects can have on our once luscious green spaces. But don’t worry,  Flymo's lawncare experts are here to help you rescue your beloved grass and restore its lush beauty.

What are leather jackets?

Leatherjackets are the larvae of craneflies, commonly known as daddy longlegs. Despite their destructive appetite for grass, they do play a role in the ecosystem by munching on decomposing organic matter. These larvae are about 3cm long, grey-brown, and have a leathery appearance.

Why are leatherjackets so problematic this year?

Blame it on the weather! This past winter was unusually long, wet, and mild, creating the perfect conditions for leatherjackets to thrive and reproduce.

Do you have leatherjackets in your lawn?

Here are some common tell-tale signs of a leatherjacket infested lawn;

  • Yellow and brown patches of dead grass;  grass can die off for a number of different reasons, it could be burnt, or lacking nutrients, so the best way to test if leatherjackets are the cause, is by lifting the effected area of grass and checking for the insects in the soil.
  • Your lawn is suddenly a haven for birds; while birds in the garden is often a welcome sight, a large Crow or Magpie scratching at the surface of your lawn, isn’t a good sign. Birds will scratch and dig for leatherjackets.
  • Dead flowers or veggie plants; leatherjackets will feast on flowers and veggie plants, as they are rich in nutrients, so it is worth checking the soil around the affected areas.
  • Daddy longlegs everywhere! If you’ve noticed more daddy long legs in your home than usual; they could be coming from your garden, an increase in these insects could be a sign your lawn needs some attention!
perfectly green lawn

Why are leatherjackets invading your lawn?

Unfortunately leatherjackets are just part of the ecosystem; after removing them completely from your lawn, it would be worth assessing the drainage in your garden. Aerating the lawn regularly and ensuring it is well drained leaves your lawn less vulnerable to infestation.

How to get rid of leatherjackets

Sadly, there are no quick fixes or specific chemicals you can use to get rid of leatherjackets. However, you can:

  • On a mild evening, saturate your lawn with water, then cover the lawn in a black plastic sheet and leave over-night. By morning, the leatherjackets will have come up to the surface where you can remove or destroy them.
  • Birds love eating leatherjackets, so try forking over the soil to help bring them to the surface and let the birds feast!
  • One very effective method to remove leatherjackets, is by introducing Nematodes in to your lawn. Nematodes are microscopic worms, they enter the larvae and infect them with a bacterial disease which kills them, but don’t worry, this is perfectly safe for your lawn.

You can purchase nematodes from various horticultural suppliers, but with Nematodes, timing is key. You can to water the Nematodes into your lawn between August and October, when the ground is still warm and moist. This is also the time that craneflies lay fresh eggs. You can always use a further application of Nematodes late Spring (April/May) once the soil is warmer (over 12 degrees).

As mentioned above, leatherjackets thrive in moist conditions; so once removed, make sure your lawn is always well drained.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and renewed fresh hope for a lush, green, leatherjacket-free lawn!

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