Crane Fly: The Large Breed Pest

Pest control can be a hassle; however, failure to rid your lawn of pests may result in serious damage. To ensure that your lawn remains healthy, it's important to take the necessary measures needed to prevent pests, like crane flies, from taking over your lawn.

What is a Crane Fly?

A crane fly is a pest that's particularly problematic in the Pacific Northwest. While crane flies look like large mosquitoes, their larvae resemble worm-like caterpillars. These are commonly referred to as leatherjackets. Adult crane flies emerge during July and August for the sole purpose of breeding. Although these large mosquito-like pests look threatening, they are not known to bite people or carry diseases, meaning they pose little threat to humans. Although crane flies are not harmful to humans, these pests can be destructive to one's lawn.

Identifying Crane Fly Problem

Since the larvae are a more serious problem for property owners, it's helpful to know when they're the most prominent. Typically, leatherjackets emerge in either February or March; however, they can begin to appear in one's lawn earlier if the weather is warmer. These pests are especially detrimental to one's lawn because they eat leaves and plant roots, resulting in nutrient loss. Fortunately, it's fairly simple to determine whether or not you have a crane fly problem using the following technique:

  • Cut a 6X6 square of sod
  • Lift up the sod and look under it
  • Count the number of leatherjacket larvae
  • To give you the number per square foot, multiply by 4
  • Keep in mind that while healthy lawns can handle 40 leatherjackets per square foot, unhealthy lawns can only manage up to 15 per square foot

Controlling Crane Flies

If the amount of pests is below the threshold, you may not need to take any further action. However, if your lawn exceeds the number of recommended crane flies, you will need to take a more aggressive approach. Encouraging natural predators, like birds, to eat crane fly larvae can rid your lawn of these pests. If this approach fails, you may need to control crane flies with the use of a potent pesticide. Before selecting the most effective pesticide, talk to your local lawn and garden store for more information about pesticides. They can help you choose the right pesticide for your lawn.

Maintaining a healthy lawn is instrumental in preventing pests from damaging one's lawn. Lawn care maintenance includes proper mowing, watering, weed control, and fertilizing techniques. With regular upkeep, your lawn has a greater chance of fending off pest and disease problems. If you suspect that you have a crane fly problem, you will need to check a sod square using the technique described above.

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