How to get rid of Leather Jackets – daddy-long-legs larvae

leather jacket

How to get rid of Leather Jackets (The insect not that awful thing your husband bought in the seventies!!)

The daddy-long-legs invasion that they’re talking about in the news!!


It’s that time of year again, and my carefully manicured lawn is just full of leather jackets, and the adult crane flies (daddy-long-legs) have started appearing. It’s been hot and dry, and now we are in the middle of some really heavy rain showers. I can’t be the only one who wants to know how to get rid of leather jackets!

crane fly


What and who eats crane flies?

  • Bats
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Frogs


… and the larvae, the leather jackets?

In some cultures, leather jackets are a prized delicacy! If you are still feeling peckish then think of this: there are thought to be around 3000 crane flies to every human. That would keep us full for a while! If you are not fancying eating the larvae as a method, then the question ‘how to get rid of leather jackets’ is still an unanswered question.


When to check for leather jacket larvae

It won’t help your lawn or mine this year, but when the seasons change from winter to spring, this is the time to be keeping an eye on our prized lawns for signs of damage from the leather jacket larvae.


How to ID a leather jacket

  • between 1-3cm
  • a black to brown colour
  • live just under the soil’s surface

They then appear as crane fly adults (daddy-long-legs) between August and October


>>An organic solution is the only legal option due to recent EU legislation. Chemical pesticides to control leather jackets in turf are now banned<<


How to get rid of leather jackets: If I can’t use pesticides, are there other solutions?

Nematodes! These are microscopic worms that kill the larvae by infecting them with a bacterial disease that kills them.


Manually: What and how to look out for leather jacket larvae:

  • Dig some small holes, around 10cm deep in your lawn (top tip: cut a turf square so you can re-lay)
  • Dig your test hole anywhere that the turf looks thin or stressed.
  • You might not see the larvae, but an affected area of turf will have a very weak structure.
  • If you find any grubs remove them before they can do any more damage.


Top tip for finding leather jacket larvae:

Cover your entire lawn overnight with black plastic sheeting. The grubs will then appear at the surface, and you can easily brush them off. Plastic sheeting can be bought in garden centres, or you can cut open a black bin bag.


leather jacket damage to lawn
leather jacket damage to lawn

What if my lawn is just too far gone?

If leather jacket larvae have completely taken hold, then rip it up and start again might be the only solution.

  • Make sure all of the leather jacket larvae are removed – take your time
  • Rotovate and leave the soil several times – birds and animals will help you to remove them
  • Prepare your lawn and seed or turf



I hope that I have helped you with some suggestions of how to get rid of leather jackets. After you have spent so long working on getting you lawn just perfect, it is so disappointing when something like the leather jacket larvae appears.



Are you tempted to try the leather jacket larvae as a snack?  I wouldn’t actually suggest that you give it a go, but why not give it a Google!



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6 Replies to “How to get rid of Leather Jackets – daddy-long-legs larvae”

  1. Leatherjackets seem to be really bad this year (2019). I have been trying beer and garlic sprays to help keep numbers down, but it seems some lawns are just too far gone!

  2. I’m finding these little monsters everywhere, demolished the lawn, under rocks, plant pots etc. Seems like an invasion. I must of killed over a 100 and used nematodes on the lawn and still digging them up. At pits end, never been invaded like this before, any other ideas to get rid of them before I move house to get away from them!!!

  3. I have very little lawn left I have tried nematodes 4 times so far at double the strength but so far nothing

  4. My golf course is completely covered with these critters the fairways are a complete mess, how can we get rid?

  5. Help…
    Nematodes don’t work. What else can I try?
    Malathon worked great some years back, but it’s been banned.


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