Leatherjackets

Identification

craneflyThe european cranefly, Tipula paludosa, has become a new pest to Ontario. The larvae is a
maggot called a leatherjacket, and is light gray to grayish, greenish brown, with irregular black
specks of various sizes. The head is small and the anal area has six tapering lobes, giving it a
unique appearance that makes it easy to identify. They range in size from 0.5-3.0 cm in length.
The adult cranefly resembles a large mosquito. The cranefly does not bite or sting.

Evidence

  • Leatherjackets feed primarily on grass shoots during the evening and on grass roots during the day.
  • Damage begins to show between early to mid-May and peaks by mid-June. Heavy infestations of leatherjackets can chew the grass down to the bare soil. The larvae stop feeding by the second week of June and move deep into the soil. They pupate into adults and emerge in late August. 
  • Females lay between 200-300 eggs within 24 hours of emerging. Upon hatching, the larvae feed immediately throughout the fall and warm periods of winter, in the upper 3 cm of the soil. 
  • leatherjacketCut away a section of turf and then scrape the soil from the roots and count the leatherjackets. If more than 25 larvae are observed in this section, you can expect damage.

Control

Cultural Control

  • Allow the surface of the lawn to dry out when the adults are flying around in late August/September; the newly laid eggs will collapse due to dehydration.
  • Rake the larvae up at night when they come to the surface to feed and submerge in soapy water 

Biological Control

  • Beneficial nematodes can be used as a preventative means of managing the European cranefly larvae. 
  • The nematodes must be applied shortly after the eggs have hatched and the maggots are small and immature. 
  • The opportunity for effective use of beneficial nematodes on European cranefly is generally in September.