How To Get Rid of Crane Flies in Your Lawn
Sure, the last weeks of summer have their perks — the chance to top up your tan, surprisingly great weather, a few more beer-in-hand mowing sessions — but that doesn’t mean this section of summer is without its flaws. For instance, if your home and garden haven’t been totally over-run by crane flies, lucky you, where have you been?
In case you don’t know what we’re talking about, they look like mosquitoes on steroids, have a wingspan of about 3 inches, have freakishly long legs, a stinger and make the kind of sound that fills you with fear when they enter your home at nightfall. That’s what they do. They flap around your living room in blind panic and this year there are more than ever.
The good news is: adult crane flies are harmless. Annoying and creepy, but harmless.
The bad news is: their larvae can do some serious damage to your lawn.
So with that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about crane flies and how to get rid of them from your lawn:
Why are crane flies so harmful to your lawn?
Here’s the short story: those hungry little crane fly larvae live and feed below the surface, eating anything they can from roots to grass blades to any other garden plant. Of course, you may be aware of this already, usually by their other name: leatherjackets. But what makes them so harmful is the fact they can live in your soil for up to a year, consuming all they can until they finally emerge from your lawn as fully-grown crane flies.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to get rid of these crane fly larvae and eliminate the problem in an efficient and effective way.
Step 1: Look For Evidence of Crane Fly Larvae
A crane fly infestation will usually show up as either unhealthy yellow grass, patches of dead brown turf or even areas of bare dirt, so if you discover any of these signs in your lawn, carefully dig up a patch of your lawn and inspect the soil for any larvae. What you are looking for is little worm-like creatures that are either green, white or brown, especially in damp areas during autumn and spring. That’s when they’re most active. Whatever the case, if you find a bunch of crane fly larvae eating your lawn, roots and everything else, there’s only one thing to do: act quickly and stop any lasting damage from happening.
Step 2: Welcome Every Natural Predator You Can
You can’t beat nature, so use it to your advantage by attracting as many natural predators as you can to your garden. We’re talking birds. Simply install a few bird feeders, houses and baths around your garden and you’ll soon have a bunch of predators that love eating both the adult crane flies and the larvae in your lawn. That’s what they do. They’ll instinctively look for bugs they can have for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and the more comfortable you make it for them, the longer they’ll stay and eat those crane flies.
Step 3: Use All-Natural Pesticides
We’re talking about garlic, neem oil and essential oils, all of which are organic pesticides and will get rid of crane fly larvae without doing any damage to your lawn or the environment. For instance, neem oil is a natural pesticide that is used to deal with pests by preventing them from laying eggs. What’s more, it’s not toxic to humans or pets.
Another option is garlic, which is known to be a pretty amazing and natural insect repellent. To use it on crane fly larvae, you can either chop it up, mix it with water and then spray it on your lawn, or you can just scatter crushed garlic across any areas of your lawn that have been infested.
As for essential oils, peppermint or lavender oils will actually repel crane flies and stop them from laying eggs in your lawn. However, they can be harmful to pets and grass so make sure you water them down before using.
Step 4: Spray Insecticides in Early-Spring
When it comes to insecticides effective at eradicating crane flies are imidacloprid and pyrethroid, both of which come in either liquid or granular form. Anyway, the reason they’re so effective is they cause paralysis, quickly killing any larvae in your lawn. To get the most out of this technique, we recommend spraying your lawn in early-April, which is usually when the eggs start hatching. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle before using.
Step 5: Adopt A Healthy Lawn Care Schedule
The best defence against crane flies laying their eggs in your lawn (and just about every other lawn care pest and disease for that matter) is to take care of your lawn. Have a fertiliser schedule, mow your turf correctly, remove any thatch with a scarification treatment and aerate your lawn so that it gets all the air, nutrients and water needed to grow healthy roots. Trust us, when you look after your lawn correctly, you’ll find crane flies are less attracted to it for one reason: there won’t be any moist areas they can call home.
Step 6: Drain Any Damp Areas
If there’s one thing crane flies love more than entering an open bedroom window at dusk and buzzing around your head just as you were about to fall asleep, it’s damp patches in your lawn. That’s where their larvae thrive. So, to avoid setting up this kind of luxury hotel for them, don’t overwater the lawn and make sure that your soil drains quickly. That alone will prevent any adult crane flies from laying their eggs there.