There are many pests that can damage your lawn, as they feed on the grass roots. If the pest issue is not sorted out in a timely manner, you can end up with an infestation and unsightly lawn. Firstly you need to identify what type of pest you are dealing with, the most common are Leatherjackets, Earthworm (of course, they have their benefits too) and Chafer Grubs. In this article we will be discussing Leatherjackets.
If you have ever noticed Daddy Long Legs (Crane Flies) flying around your garden then you might want to check for these little nuisances next time you go out. Leatherjackets (the Daddy Long Legs’ larvae) are annoying little pests that eat away at your grass roots. In most cases, if your grass is strong enough to resist their attack, you will hardly even notice them but if you find them in large numbers then you will begin to see some serious lawn damage.
To be able to deal with Leatherjacket infestation you need to understand their life-cycle. Daddy Long Legs or Crane Flies are most apparent during the end of summer and autumn, as this is the time when they will be laying their eggs (they bury their eggs in the soil). Given time for the eggs to hatch and begin feeding, the Leatherjackets will start causing damage to your lawn the following spring. I would recommend that you check for them on a yearly basis. But in saying that winters are starting to be a little warmer now, so you could see the eggs hatching a little earlier, that is why I think you should familiarise yourself with the signs so you are prepared and one step ahead.
There are just a few signs that indicate the presence of a Leatherjacket:
- If you see large groups of Crane Flies around your garden during July to September – a lot of adults will mean a lot of larvae.
- If you begin to notice patches of your lawn drying up significantly, or turn yellowish brown, which you can pull back easily. Look for larvae just below or on top of the soil.
- If you notice birds scratching, pulling and ripping areas of your lawn. They want to eat the larvae so you are most likely to find them in the areas the birds have been munching at.
- If you notice some of your flower beds, vegetable plots, seedlings and small plants dying then this could be damaged caused by the Leatherjackets at soil level.
If you do suspect a problem then check out the area where you think there has been the most damage and pull back some patches of turf. Pay attention to the areas that look thin or stressed, if your lawn has been affected then your grass root structure will be very weak. Also, insects tend to move outwards from a central area, so make sure you have a good look at your lawn edges.
If you see more than 5 pests per square metre then you will have some work to do.
There are a few ways you can treat Leatherjackets. The most effective way to do so is by covering your entire lawn, or just the area affected, overnight with a black plastic sheet. This encourages the pests to rise to the surface where you can brush them off and kill them. Just make sure when you are removing the sheet that you do so slowly, if you do it too quickly some of them will escape and fall back into the soil.
There is is also a biological solution which you apply by watering it into the turf, called a nematode. This enters the bodies of the Leatherjackets and infects them with a bacterial disease. The only disadvantage with this solution, however, is that the conditions need to be just right for it to work. The soil needs to be well drained but moist and there has to be a minimum temperature of 12°, because of this you are best applying it during autumn.
Again make sure you focus on the edges of your lawn as the pests are likely to spread to these areas, just keep in mind by the time you find the areas most infested the soil might be too cold for the nematodes to be effective.
The other thing you could do is leave the work to the birds. If you see them eating away at your lawn you don’t need to worry, they are actually helping you. They want to feed on the larvae so could be doing you a favour, and in most cases will remove some of your thatch and moss as well. They might make a mess but it will be worth it.
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Once you have dealt with the pests it is time to treat the damaged areas of lawn. This is very simple process of scarifying, aerating and over-seeding, just treat it like any other bald patch.
To understand the best type of lawn aerators, benefits and different methods available click on my article – Best Type of Lawn Aerators.
When the lawn is repaired you can then start your normal lawn maintenance and schedule.
Hope you found this article informative. Below I have included a link to other related articles that you may find interesting. Why not visit us on the EasyLawnMowing website where you will find lots more blogs and garden tool reviews to help you with achieving that perfect lawn.