Most people are not aware of how to get rid of leatherjackets or even realise how they can affect their lawn. A Daddy Longlegs in full flight is annoying enough. But did you know that the grubs of this perennial pest, known as Leatherjackets, can destroy massive areas of grass?
The trouble is these grubs are too tasty. From early August until the end of October our garden lawns will be subjected to attacks by birds and animals digging up grass on the search for Leatherjacket grubs. Jays, magpies, crows and rooks, plus badgers and foxes, are the chief culprits and can effectively rotovate large areas of lawn.
To make things worse, these underground grubs already cause lawn damage by chewing away at the roots of the grass. Homeowners with newly laid lawns should be especially aware, as the grubs enjoy the tender new roots.
Leatherjacket larvae typically hatch from late July and stay underground until they pupate the following April/May. They remain reasonably close to the lawn surface until the colder weather, when they burrow down deeper for protection from the cold and the birds and animals.
The grubs lay their eggs on the lawn surface in the summer and the cycle repeats itself. The Leatherjacket larvae is a grey/brown colour and usually about 2.5cm long.
How to get rid of leatherjackets
The most effective treatment is Nemasys leatherjacket killer from BASF. This uses nematodes to attack and kill the larvae and is compatible with organic gardening.
Nematodes are microscopic animals which are specially bred for pest control at BASF’s state-of-the-art facility at Littlehampton in Sussex. Nematodes enter the larvae through natural openings and, once inside, they die.
Nemasys products arrive in the form of a fibrous paste and are applied by mixing with water and can then be applied to the lawn with a watering can. To ensure the lawn stays free of marauding corvids, foxes and badgers the Nemasys treatment should begin in early August and for more effective control, two treatments two to four weeks apart should be applied. It is important to water the treated area thoroughly immediately after each application and keep the area moist for at least two weeks. BASF recommends that the grass is cut before each treatment.