Leatherjacket (European Marsh Crane Fly)

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Scientific name Tipula paludosa, T. oleracea

Leatherjacket larvae are the immature stage of the European Marsh Crane Fly. They are tough-skinned, light-grey or greenish-brown with irregular black specks, 3 to 4 cm (1.2 to 1.6 inches) long and live in the soil throughout the fall and winter.

During the day, Leatherjackets feed on grass roots and crowns in the upper 3 cm (1.2 inches) of soil. They emerge to feed on grass leaves and stems at night. If the upper soil dries, these larger larvae migrate to deeper soil. They feed in spring through to early-summer when they form a pupa, emerging in late-summer or early-fall as adult Crane Flies.

The decision to take control measures is better made in the spring because late-summer drought or a severe winter may sufficiently reduce the Leatherjacket population. A well-maintained turf is able to withstand a mild infestation so control measures may not be justified. Higher numbers (greater than 270 larvae/m2) will likely cause turf damage.

Turf Symptoms

  • Patches of dead grass.
  • Turf begins to thin and die back.


Control Options

  • Improve drainage conditions.
  • Avoid irrigating a dry lawn in the fall if you suspect a Leatherjacket infestation.
  • Apply an insecticide to the affected area.