What are leatherjackets?

Traditionally the European Crane Fly has only been a pest in coastal areas of North America. However, since 1996 more and more damage caused by the larvae of this insect has been documented in non-coastal regions. The insect was first reported in Canada in 1955 on Cape Breton Island. The first reports from Western Canada were from Vancouver in 1965.

Leatherjackets life cycle.

Due to their leathery gray-brown skin, the damaging larvae are most commonly referred to as "leatherjackets". The adult crane fly resembles a giant mosquito and appears in late summer in great numbers. Adults emerge in mid July through September/early October and begin mating immediately after they emerge. Females lay up to 350 shiny black eggs on the grass and soil. Eggs hatch within a couple of weeks and larvae being feeding. Larvae feed throughout the fall and spend the winter below the surface of the lawn. During warm periods of the winter they can move closer to the surface and resume feeding. By March and April heavy feeding occurs as larvae reach their maturity. Larvae continue feeding until about mid July. At this time they begin to pupate, then later transform into adult crane flies.

Leatherjackets feed during the day at or below the surface of the turf on root hairs, roots and crowns. Damage to lawns first appears as brown patches that soon become bare if infestations are heavy. The insect is most visible on damp warm nights when they feed on grass blades and stems at the soil surface. A healthy lawn can sustain up to approximately 200 larvae per m² (10ft²) before significant damage results.

What is the treatment for leatherjackets?

Promptly treating potentially devastating leatherjacket infestations can help protect the investment you have made in a lawn care program and your property. If you notice suspicious brown patches starting to appear in the lawn DO NOT HESITATE! Call your local Weed Man Professional for a free healthy lawn analysis. Weed Man can verify the presence of a potentially damaging infestation, discuss preventative measures and recommend treatment if required. Consult with your local Weed Man Professional to discuss all options with respect to dealing with insects in your lawn.