Effective methods for eliminating leatherjackets from your property


If you have noticed damage to your lawn, such as bare patches and dying grass, you may be dealing with leatherjackets. These pesky pests, also known as crane fly larvae, can cause significant harm to your turf.

What are leatherjackets?

Leatherjackets are elongated worms with a tough, leather-like skin. They are the larvae of crane flies, commonly known as daddy-long-legs. These small insects lay their eggs in the soil during late summer or early autumn. When the eggs hatch, the leatherjackets emerge and start feeding on the roots of your grass, resulting in brown patches and weakened turf.

Why are leatherjackets a problem?

Leatherjackets can cause extensive damage to your lawn if not controlled. As they feed on the roots, the grass becomes weak and susceptible to disease and further infestations. Additionally, leatherjackets attract predators like crows and starlings, which can further disrupt the health and appearance of your lawn. If untreated, this issue can escalate, and you may need to invest time and money in repairing the damage.

How to identify a leatherjacket problem?

If you suspect leatherjackets in your lawn, there are a few signs to look out for. Leatherjackets are most active in late autumn and early spring, so keep an eye out during these times. Digging into the soil in affected areas may reveal the presence of leatherjacket larvae. They are approximately 25mm long and have a greyish-brown color. You may also notice increased bird activity, as crows and starlings feast on the larvae.

How to get rid of leatherjackets?

There are several treatments available to control leatherjackets effectively. One of the most popular methods is using nematodes, which are microscopic worms that parasitize the larvae. Nematodes are a natural and environmentally friendly solution. Another option is to apply a pesticide specifically designed to target leatherjackets. However, be cautious when using pesticides, as they can harm beneficial insects and other wildlife in your lawn.

In addition to these treatments, it is essential to take preventive measures to protect your lawn against leatherjackets. Regular lawn maintenance, including proper aeration and dethatching, can help create a healthier turf that is more resistant to infestations. Investing in a good-quality lawn fertilizer can also improve the overall health of your grass and make it less attractive to leatherjackets.

In conclusion, if you have noticed damage to your lawn and suspect leatherjackets, it is important to take action promptly. By implementing a comprehensive plan that includes both treatment and prevention methods, you can eliminate these pests and ensure the vitality and beauty of your lawn for years to come.

6 DIY Treatments to Get Rid of Leatherjacket Larvae in Lawns

If you have noticed long-legs flying around your lawns in April, it’s time to take control of your leatherjacket problem. These pesky larvae can cause serious damage to your turf, so it’s important to set up a management plan to get rid of them.

1. Check for the first patch of damage:

Before you start any treatments, take a walk around your lawns and look for patches of grass that seem to be wilting or turning brown. This could be a sign that leatherjacket larvae are feasting on the roots and causing damage.

2. Trap and control:

If you suspect leatherjackets are infiltrating your lawns, you can set up traps to attract and catch them. Simply bury a plastic container in the ground, fill it with soapy water or a mix of water and dish soap, and keep checking it regularly to see if any leatherjackets have been caught.

Treatment Overview
3. Biological control Introduce natural predators, such as nematodes or birds, to your lawns to feed on leatherjackets.
4. Improve lawn management Keep your lawns healthy by aerating and scarifying to improve drainage, as leatherjackets are attracted to damp conditions.
5. Use a pesticide If all else fails, consider using a pesticide specifically designed to target leatherjacket larvae. Follow the instructions carefully.
6. DIY Garlic Spray Mix crushed garlic with water and spritz the affected areas to repel leatherjackets. Garlic is a natural deterrent for many pests.

It’s important to start treating your lawns as soon as you notice damage to prevent further spread. Whilst it may take some time to fully get rid of the leatherjacket larvae, following these DIY treatments and incorporating preventive measures will help repair the damage and ensure your lawns stay healthy and green.

Remember, if you’re unsure about any of these treatments or if the damage to your turf is severe, it’s always best to consult a professional for assistance.

What are leatherjackets

Leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies, also known as daddy longlegs. Before they become adult crane flies, they go through a lifecycle that can cause damage to lawns and plants. Leatherjackets are a common problem in areas with damp soil and good drainage, as they feed on the roots of grass and other plants.

Leatherjackets are a nuisance because they eat the roots of grass, causing brown patches and thinning of the lawn. They can also attract predators such as birds, like starlings and crows, who feed on them. Although leatherjackets are harmless themselves, their presence can lead to considerable damage to lawns and plants.

There are several controls for leatherjackets that you can try. One option is to use nematodes, which are microscopic worms that can be applied to the soil to kill the leatherjacket larvae. Another plan is to set traps to catch the adult crane flies and stop them from laying eggs in your lawn. However, these controls may not always ensure complete eradication, as leatherjackets can be resilient and have a short lifecycle.

To minimize the likelihood of leatherjackets infiltrating your lawn, you can take a few steps. Spritzing the soil with garlic or tee tree oil can help deter them. Proper lawn care, such as regular mowing and correct watering, can also minimize the risk of infestation. In late summer or early autumn, when leatherjackets are starting their feasting cycle, it may be necessary to apply a pesticide to deal with them.

If you decide to tackle the leatherjacket problem yourself, it is important to identify the correct time for treatment. Leaving it too late may result in the larvae burrowing deeper into the soil, making it harder to control. Removing their preferred hiding spots, such as thatch or dense vegetation, can also help reduce their numbers.

Overall, leatherjackets can be a nuisance for your lawn, but with the right treatments and prevention methods, you can keep them at bay and ensure a healthy lawn throughout the year.

What do leatherjackets look like

Leatherjackets, also known as leatherjacket daddy-long-legs, are the larvae of crane flies or daddy-long-legs. These pests can cause significant damage to your lawn and plants.

Leatherjackets have a slimy, elongated body with a dark-brown or black color. They can grow up to 1 inch in length and have a segmented appearance. These creatures live in the soil, feeding on the roots of grass and plants. They are most active during the spring and fall months.

If you notice signs of leatherjackets, such as patches of damaged and dying grass or plants, it is important to take action to control and eliminate them before they cause further damage.

There are several treatments available to get rid of leatherjackets. One popular solution is the use of nematodes, which are microscopic worms that feed on the pests. Applying nematodes to your lawn can help kill off leatherjackets and prevent future infestations. Another effective method is using garlic-based treatments or fungi that are known to be lethal to leatherjackets.

It is best to apply treatments in the late summer or early fall, as this is when leatherjackets are most vulnerable. However, if you have already noticed signs of feasting leatherjackets, it is never too late to start management plans to get rid of them.

Leatherjackets are harmless to humans and pets, but they can cause considerable damage to your lawn and garden if not removed and controlled. In conclusion, understanding what leatherjackets look like and their lifecycle is essential for proper control and prevention. By taking the necessary steps and using the correct treatments, you can rid your lawn of these pests and keep your plants healthy.

Leatherjacket lifecycle

The lifecycle of leatherjackets, the larvae of crane flies, is an important factor to consider when dealing with a leatherjacket infestation. Understanding their lifecycle can help you take the necessary actions to get rid of them effectively.

Leatherjackets typically lay their eggs in soil between late August and April. The eggs hatch into small larvae known as “leatherjackets.” These larvae feed on the grass roots, causing significant damage to lawns and other green areas. As they grow, they go through five instar stages, in which they molt and become larger.

During the winter months, leatherjackets continue to feed, and this is when they cause the most damage. They feed on grass roots, resulting in patches of dead or damaged grass. Signs of a leatherjacket infestation include an increased presence of birds, such as starlings, which feed on the larvae, and thinning or yellow patches on lawns.

In early spring, the leatherjackets pupate, transforming into adult crane flies. This marks the end of their lifecycle, but it also means their population will increase as they mate and lay more eggs.

To effectively control leatherjackets, it’s important to take action during their lifecycle. Here are some ways to do it:

1. Natural predators: Introduce natural predators, such as nematodes, into the soil. Nematodes are microscopic worms that kill leatherjackets by infecting them with bacteria. This biological control can help reduce their numbers and ensure long-term control.

2. Lawn maintenance: Regularly scarify and aerate your lawn to remove thatch and improve soil aeration. This will make it less favorable for leatherjackets to lay eggs and disturb their lifecycle.

3. Trap crops: Plant trap crops, such as garlic or onions, around the edges of your lawn. Leatherjackets are attracted to these plants and will lay their eggs there instead of in your lawn.

4. Chemical treatments: There are chemical treatments available that can kill leatherjackets. However, these should be used as a last resort as they can harm beneficial insects and require careful application.

By understanding the leatherjacket lifecycle and implementing the correct control measures, you can effectively get rid of them and protect your lawn investment. Don’t let these long-legs ruin your lawn – take action now!

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.