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How do I recognize leatherjackets?

Leatherjackets look like gray-brown, fat worms of 1 to 5 cm in size. No clear head can be distinguished.

Leatherjackets are located in the top layer of the lawn. You can find the leatherjackets by removing some dead gas and digging with a shovel.

Verschil taxuskeverlarve, engerling, emelt en ritnaald

Leatherjackets and grubs

Leatherjackets are often confused with grubs or wireworms. A clear difference is the presence of legs: leatherjackets have no legs, unlike grubs and wireworms. In the photo you can see the difference between leatherjackets and grubs.

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How do I recognize crane flies?

In the Netherlands, the meadow crane fly and the cabbage crane fly are the most common. The cabbage crane fly flies twice a year: from April to June and from August to October. The meadow crane fly flies once a year: between August and September.

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How old do leatherjackets get?

The crane fly has a one-year cycle. Eggs are laid in spring or autumn, depending on the crane fly species. After a few days the leatherjackets hatch from their eggs. The leatherjackets can overwinter, they can withstand temperatures below freezing. The following year, the leatherjackets pupate into adult crane flies, and then the cycle begins again. The leatherjackets therefore live a little less than one year.

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How do I recognize leatherette damage?

You discover leatherjackets because yellow spots appear in the lawn. Crane fly larvae feed on the roots of grass, causing the grass to die and turn yellow. You can often easily lift the dead parts of the grass.

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Leatherjackets and birds

If you see a lot of birds in the lawn, this may also indicate leatherjackets. The birds peck, dig and toss in the grass to find and eat the leatherjackets. This can cause additional damage to the lawn.

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How do I combat leatherjackets?

To combat leatherjackets you can use Felti or Carpo nematodes: natural enemies of leatherjackets. Nematodes are microscopic worms that naturally occur in the soil in the Netherlands.
Felti nematodes can be used in spring or autumn, when the soil temperature fluctuates between 5 and 15 degrees. In summer, at soil temperatures between 15 and 30 degrees, Carpo nematodes are more effective.

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When is the best time to combat leatherjackets?

The best time to combat leatherjackets is in the months of September and October. The leatherjackets have then hatched from their eggs and are small in size. They can therefore be combatted more effectively with Felti nematodes. Repeat treatments in spring and summer are certainly possible.

Not sure which pest is bothering you?

View our overview page with all pests.

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