If you happen to see mosquito-like flies in your garden, you don’t need to worry.
They are crane flies, which don’t pose any serious threat to your health.
Often called leather jackets because of their extremely tough skins, adult crane flies are active throughout the late summer.
These seemingly giant mosquitoes emerge from below the ground to mate with female crane flies and lay eggs.
Even though crane flies are harmless and one of the beneficial decomposers, they may potentially wreak havoc in your yard.
For optimal lawn care, it is important for you to pay serious attention to controlling crane fly infestation.
Commonly known as mosquito hawks, European crane flies are the most common species of crane flies across the United States.
Other common names of crane flies are mosquito eaters and daddy long legs.
Are Crane Flies Bad? Do They Cause Problems with Your Plants?
Adult crane flies love moist environments and are more likely to be found in home gardens, especially those who have any species of turf grass.
Even though adult crane flies are not dangerous, its larval stage is something to fear.
Crane fly larvae are white, worm-like insects and are at least 1.5″ long.
On warm nights, the larvae feed on crowns and grass blades, leaving brown patches on your otherwise green grass.
Adult crane flies are most active during the night and are attracted to moist soil and areas.
Even though many turf species withstand low to medium-sized crane fly populations, excessive feeding wreak havoc on the health of the turf.
Besides this, there is an indirect way because of which this insect pest is a nuisance for your yard.
Birds, skunks, and other grub-eating animals may be attracted to your garden and would dig the lawn up to hunt crane flies when they are still in their larval stage.
Even though these natural predators help with crane fly control, they may cause some significant damage to your otherwise well-manicured garden.
What Kind of Damage Does The Crane Fly Cause?
Leatherjackets are notorious for feeding on almost all parts of grass plants, from the blades to the roots and crowns.
In fall, after the crane flies eggs hatch, the feeding begins, damaging the sea of green grass of any garden.
The crane fly damage is quite visible in spring when you’d see full-damaged grass starting to thin and the brown patches beginning to die.
How To Control Crane Flies?
For proper pest control, it is important to learn how to get rid of crane flies.
Since adult crane flies are not destructive, you must pay attention to killing crane fly larvae.
In this section, let us have a look at some options which are easily available.
#1 – Use an Insecticide
Neem Oil is our FAVORITE natural organic insecticide. Control aphids, mealybugs, plant scale and more. It can also be used as a soil drench.
When using insecticides, exercise caution.
Even though humans are not affected by the toxicity levels of insecticide, the product may still cause sickness or irritation.
For ensuring safety, use a garden sprayer to spray the liquid form of the insecticide on the area which is supposed to be treated.
#2 – Biological Control
The beneficial nematode is effective in reducing crane fly larvae.
This is a microscopic bacteria which feeds on the pest and reduce crane fly populations by at least 50%.
Birds feed on grubs and insects.
By attracting birds toward your garden, you will be able to let them fest on crane fly larvae, wreaking havoc in your garden.
Make a DIY birdhouse and place common birds feed in it.
Keep the feeders filled to ensure the birds don’t leave the garden to find food in some other place.
Attract birds by providing a clean birdbath.
#3 – Lawn Care
Nothing can reduce crane fly populations as effectively as well-managed lawns.
Lawn aeration and dethatching are essential for maximum lawn care.
Check out our article on – St Augustine Grass Maintenance Schedule
You must draft a lawn care schedule to make sure your lawn is well-maintained.
You might be thinking what a lawn thatch is.
It is the excess buildup of dead and old grass produce thatch in your garden.
If the thatch is thick enough, the crane fly larvae will make its home there.
This is why getting rid of the thatch is important for the health of your ground.
In the same manner, another step that you have to take is to ensure your lawn doesn’t have moist soil.
Since crane flies are attracted to moist environments, it is extremely important for you to not provide such an environment to the flies.
For this, you have to reduce the water you normally use to apply to your lawn.
Grasses remain fine with moderately dry soil and there is no point in overwatering them.