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Leatherjackets Last Updated: 14/04/2024

Leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies (daddy-long legs), which are a common nuisance in some lawns. These pests are 30-40mm long and can cause significant damage when left untreated.

Lifecycle of Leatherjackets

Crane flies are on the wing between late July and early September. During this time they lay their eggs below the surface of the turf. The larvae or (leatherjackets) then hatch 2-3 weeks later. They then start devouring the turf roots and stem bases with biting mouthparts. The larvae can then feed right through to the following June.













One of the main problems with Leatherjackets is that it can take a while to even notice they are present, at which point quite a lot of damage has already been caused. The damage caused by leatherjackets does not become obvious until the spring when they are growing rapidly. The first visible signs of damage can be seen when straw-coloured patches of turf appear, which later become bare and usually become infested with weeds.

Signs of Leatherjacket damage

Leatherjackets in your lawn can become clear if magpies, crows or flocks of starlings descend on the lawn. Leatherjackets are also a favourite of hedgehogs, foxes and badgers. If visiting wildlife has been taking more interest in your lawn than usual, it could be a sign of unwanted activity beneath the surface.

Leatherjackets damage lawns by the feeding on the root of the grass plant causing dead patches, but often more significant damage is caused by wildlife searching for them.

Preventative measures

Like anything, prevention is always better than cure. When identified early, leatherjackets can easily be controlled with a single application. However, a lawn with significant leatherjacket damage may require renovation work, following a leatherjacket control treatment.

To help avoid the damage that these pests cause, areas of the turf should be checked on a regular basis to see if any larvae are present. Here's a couple of methods of identifying leatherjackets:

1. Try and peel back areas of your lawn. If the turf easily rips up like a mat, then you may have leatherjackets which have already fed on some of the roots.

2. Soaking the surface of the lawn and then applying a plastic sheet to the affected areas of the lawn overnight will encourage the leatherjackets to come to the surface of the turf.

FAQs about Leatherjackets

  • Your local Lawn Master expert can provide a free quotation to control the leatherjackets using an effective treatment.

  • Our leatherjackets treatment is usually effective within 24 hours, but may take up to a few days to be fully effective.

  • It is impossible to prevent or guarantee your lawn won't get a leatherjacket infestation at some point, but maintaining a healthy lawn through regular mowing, aeration and fertilisation helps make their identification much easier.

  • While they primarily feed and on the grass roots, they can also damage plants, flowers, and vegetables. You may see them In your plants borders and on your patio for example.

  • They are not harmful to humans or pets. However, they can attract other wildlife causing damage to your lawn.

Leatherjacket treatment

If you think that your lawn has leatherjackets, then you should contact your local Lawn Master expert for a free lawn care analysis as soon as possible.

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For Further Information

Learn more about common lawn pests.

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