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Leatherjackets are the immature stage (larva) of European crane flies. They are light gray to brown, worm-like maggots,up to 4 cm long, with a tough outer skin.

Adult crane flies look like giant mosquitoes, up to 2.5 cm long. But they are harmless compared to mosquitoes. They have long, fragile legs.

What Does Leatherjacket Damage Look Like?

Leatherjackets live in the top layer of soil, feeding on the roots of grasses. Where large numbers of leatherjackets are feeding,they leave thin, browning and bald patches in lawns in the spring. Leatherjacket Life Cycle

Adult crane flies lay eggs in the soil from mid-July to late September. The larvae hatch and begin feeding on roots in the fall. They over-winter in the soil and resume feeding in the spring. They do the most feeding during April and early May.

A Crane Fly

The larvae remain in the soil to change into an immobile stage, called a pupa. Inside the pupa, they transform into adults, which emerge from mid-July onwards.

The adults of a similar crane fly species emerge from May onward.

When Are Leatherjackets A Problem?

Leatherjackets rarely damage residential lawns.They can damage closely mowed, highly managed or stressed turf, particularly in cool, wet summers.

Even where their feeding has caused noticeable thinning, lawns quickly recover as soon as leatherjackets stop feeding in May.

More damage may be caused by birds and raccoons that dig up the lawn to eat leatherjackets.

A LeatherJacket – that is – Larvae of Crane Fly.

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Crane Fly Larvae called LeatherJacket

An adult Crane Fly .

European Crane Fly
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