Crane Flies

crane fly
larvae in the ground
crane fly larvae

Adult crane flies look like large, oversize mosquitoes. Depending on where you live, you may know them as mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters or daddy long-legs. Despite the nicknames, crane flies feed on flower nectar, not mosquitoes. It's their larvae - known as "leatherjackets" due to their thick, tough skins that damage and destroy lawns.

Identification: Adult crane flies are most active near twilight. They're attracted to moist areas, including irrigated lawns. Their distinctively veined wings span about 1 inch. Plump leatherbacks are gray to olive-brown in color and grow up to 1 1/2 inches long. They look like a headless, legless caterpillar or grub.

Signs/Damage: Leatherjackets feed on all parts of grass plants from the roots and crowns to the blades. Feeding is heaviest in fall, right after the pests hatch, and again in spring when they start feeding on grass again. Damage is most obvious in spring, as fall-damaged grass thins and irregular brown patches begin to die. Use a shovel to separate the damaged grass layer from the soil, and you'll find leatherjackets feeding.

Control: Effective crane fly control involves preventive and active treatments. Early spring treatments target the leatherjacket larvae, which overwinter in soil, before they damage lawns. Late-summer and fall treatments target emerging adults and newly hatched larvae. GardenTech® brand offers a highly effective option to kill crane fly larvae by contact:

  • Sevin® Insect Killer Granules kill and control leatherjackets above and below the soil line. Then the product keeps protecting against these pests and up to 100 others for up to three months. Apply the granules with a regular lawn spreader for thorough, uniform coverage. Then water immediately to release the active ingredients into the soil. 

These GardenTech® products kill adult crane flies and up to 500 other pests by contact and keep protecting for up to three months:+

  • Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate, applied with a pump-style sprayer, simplifies treating lawn areas where crane flies are expected or where damage occurs. Spray thoroughly to cover grass or other plant surfaces completely.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray attaches to your garden hose to mix and measure as you spray. Cover all affected areas thoroughly to treat existing pests and protect against additional crane fly damage.

Tip: Birds, skunks and raccoons digging in your lawn may signal leatherjackets are feeding on turf. Treat promptly to kill the pests before damage becomes severe.

+Except ticks

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully.

GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.

Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.



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