You may have been spotting the yellowish patches on your lawn and wondered what has caused them. You may have started treating it with a variety of chemicals, you may have replaced some areas with fresh lawn, but you are still none the wiser as to what was causing it.
Have you heard of leatherjackets? Not the type you wear….we don’t think they cause much damage to a lawn! The type that thrives on plants and grass. Let’s tell you about them and what you can do to stop them making your luscious lawn a barren scrubland.
What is a leatherjacket bug?
The leatherjacket bug is less an insect and more of a larva. They are the larval stage of daddy long legs, or leatherjacket crane flies.
The leatherjacket lives in the soil where it starts to eat away at roots and plant bases. Known to destroy lawns, vegetable plots and small plants, they can make a once beautiful garden look very ugly.
When will I find leatherjacket bugs?
The adult crane fly or daddy long legs will lay its eggs in the late summer, choosing the grass as a great place for them to hide, grow and then emerge. They can also be found in the soil of pot plants but are more commonly found in the lawn. The eggs will lay within the lawn for around 2-3 weeks before hatching when they start to feast on your greenery. They won’t start to make significant damage until late spring or early summer, but this can change if the winter was warmer than normal. Full grown larvae then pupate in the soil where you may spot the empty case poking out of the soil. By which time, the damage may have been done.
What do leatherjacket bugs look like?
You won’t find legs or an area you could define as a head but instead they appear as a tube-like body that looks a little grey, a little brown. Perhaps you could think of them as a mini slug. They are approximately 30mm in length.
How to spot leatherjackets are running your garden
First sign may be if you spot anything matching the description, we mentioned in the paragraph above. Whilst small, they can be found if you look for them! In addition, if your lawn has started to show yellow or brown patches, this could be a sign of the larvae starting to eat.
If you spot several holes in the turf, this can be a sign of where birds have been hunting the leatherjackets. Crows, magpies, and starlings loves to feast on them so should holes in the lawn become noticeable. This could be why.
You could see that flowers in your flowerpots are dying or that vegetables plots just aren’t developing. With the leatherjacket enjoying the roots, they can kill of the flowers or vegetables easily before you can even spot the problem.
A further way to spot them could be if you are at a stage where you believe there is a problem but are unsure what it is. If you were to soak an area of lawn and then cover it with black plastic when you remove it in the morning, if leatherjackets are feasting on your lawn, you will find them on the lawn surface under the cover.
How to treat leatherjackets
In some cases, leatherjacket bugs will be hunted down by swooping prey from above but this can also be detrimental to your lawn so what other options are there:
This may be a method you have not heard of but by picking up some of these eelworms from garden centres you can remove leatherjackets quite well. They enter the body of the leatherjacket and then infect them with a deadly disease. To get best results, the soil should be moist, and the edge of the infected areas should be treated first in order to stop the spread of any infestation. Apply them around September time.
Using the method we referred to in the earlier paragraph, dropping the black plastic sheet over the soaked lawn will encourage the emergence of the leatherjackets. By gently lifting it many leatherjackets will be attached. You can then dispose and possibly clear your problem.
This is often seen by people as a way to treat any garden issue but can lead to further problems. It should really be conducted by professionals as there are no current product available for home gardeners.
Install an artificial lawn
By having an artificial lawn, there is no soil, meaning that the leatherjackets can not feed and as a result cannot survive. It may sound a drastic change but with the benefits it gives in so many other ways, the outlay could end up saving you money long term as well as giving you a green garden all year long.
Using a product like Easigrass means that you have a lawn that never needs treating from unwanted pests. It can be cleaned easily when necessary and is totally safe for pets and children. If an artificial lawn is something you are considering to either make your garden more aesthetically pleasing or to combat pests, contact us today. We can provide you with a sample, a callback or visit your property to give you expert advice.