Disease & Insect Control

Leather Jackets

The crane fly (daddy long legs) lays its eggs in the lawn in August / September depending on the soil temperature. Once the eggs hatch a maggot-like larvae (nicknamed leather jacket) emerges, it starts to eat the grass stem and roots of the grass just below the soil surface. The larvae have no legs, are cylindrical in shape and brown grey in colour with a set of jaw like mandibles at one end. The larvae start to feed from early autumn and depending on the level of infestation, significant damage usually starts to appear in November and December although they will continue to grow and do more damage through winter and early spring.

If left unattended the leather jackets can strip whole lawns. The grass turns brown as the roots are destroyed. Bare patches of lawn are usually quickly colonised by moss and weeds.

Tell tale signs are yellowing grass when there is plenty of rain, bare patches near shaded areas, birds pecking at your lawn and ripping up grass and thatch to get at the leather jackets.

An application of insecticide is used to control the larvae. One or a maximum of two treatments in either the autumn or spring are enough to control the larvae. It is a very reliable method of control. It is better to catch the infestation early before too much damage has been done

Leather jackets will eat the grass roots and shoots just below the surface. They do not eat weeds or moss. If you had a serious infestation then some of the roots will be destroyed and the grass is unlikely to grow back. Depending on the level of damage we recommend you spray herbicide to control weeds. Use moss control to kill the moss – scarify to remove dead moss and then aerate to improve ventilation and top dress and over seed, applying a slow controlled release fertiliser.

Chafer Grub Larvae of the chafer beetle

Infestations are not that common on heavy clay soils. They have large bodies 10 -15 mm in length and a coiled shrimp like appearance, light brown heads and white bodies with three sets of legs near the head. They live just below the soil surface in the root zone.

Beetles lay the eggs in late May. Larvae will hatch and consume the grass roots causing significant damage separating the grass from the roots and allowing large areas of turf to be lifted like a wig. Damage is usually noticed in late summer / autumn. They proceed to the next stage of the life cycle in March.

Tell tale signs are increased bird activity, usually large black birds and magpies etc ripping up turf to feed on the succulent grubs. Brown and yellow patches will appear where the grass has been separated from the nutrients and moisture.

Chafer grubs will eat the grass roots and shoots just below the surface. They do not eat weeds or moss. If you had a serious infestation, then some of the roots will be destroyed and the grass is unlikely to grow back.

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