Common Lawn Diseases

Leather jackets

Leather jackets can cause extensive damage to lawns.  The leatherjacket is the larvae of the Crane fly (Daddy longlegs).

Crane fly’s lay their eggs onto grass areas, including lawns from around September time.  When the eggs hatch into small larvae they start to feed on the roots of the grass.  At this stage the damage will be minimal, however by February/March time when the larvae have grown, they can cause severe damage.  To begin with you may notice bare patches appearing in the lawn and if you lift an area and it comes up easily you will know potentially it is caused by leather jackets or other similar grubs such as chafer’s as they eat away at the roots system.  Further damage can be caused as birds and other animals root down looking for the grubs, the effects of this can be quite devastating.

Chafer Grubs

Chafer Grubs cause similar damage as Leather jackets.  Chafer’s are creamy coloured with a light brown head and 3 pairs of distinctive legs approx.10- 15mm long when grown.  The chafer grubs are the larvae of chafer beetles, they have a life cycle of 1-3 years dependent on the species.

The grubs eat away at the root of the plant, first you will see small bald patches in the lawn, if you peel the grass back it will lift away, this damage is unsightly and can effect large areas of the lawn, further damage can also be caused by animals and birds  as they dig up the lawn looking for bugs,  when this happens the damage to the lawn can be extensive.

Worm Casts

There are over 25 species of worms.  Worms are beneficial for soil they improve microbial activity and provide natural aeration.     Worm casts however are an issue that shouldn’t be ignored. When squashed, worm casts make ideal seed beds for weed seeds. When they appear, let them fully dry and then sweep them away with a stiff broom brush before mowing. Changes in regulations means that currently there is no treatment for worm casts.

Products that previously controlled leather jackets, chafer’s and other root loving larvae are no longer available due to the harmful chemicals they contain.  New research is currently ongoing.