As we start welcoming the warmer days we will also start seeing the emergence of pests that can wreak havoc with your neat lawn. The two most common lawn pests are Leatherjackets and Chafer Grubs.
Scientific Name: Tipula paludosa.
When Daddy Longlegs (Crane fly) lays eggs in your lawn, the resultant larvae, called Leatherjackets, feast on the roots and young shoots, causing huge damage.
How to tell if Leatherjackets are a problem in your garden:
- Lawns develop patches where the grass turns a yellowish brown and dies. This can be distinguished from similar effects, caused by lawn diseases or adverse growing conditions, by lifting the affected turf and finding Leatherjackets in the surface layers of the soil.
- Crows, magpies, rooks and starlings will search for Leatherjackets in the turf. These birds will scratch the surface to bring the Leatherjackets up.
- Leatherjackets have elongated tubular bodies, up to 30mm long, and are greyish brown. They have no legs or obvious head.
Scientific Name: Phyllopertha horticola
Chafer Grubs are soil-dwelling larvae of various chafer beetles. They feed on plant roots, especially those of grasses.
How to tell if Chafer Grubs are a problem in your garden:
- Patches of the lawn may become slightly yellow.
- Birds, particularly of the crow family (i.e. jays, magpies, rooks and crows), badgers and foxes feed on the grubs, tearing up the loosened turf in the process.
- Damaging infestations can be highly localised and sporadic in occurrence.
- Chafer grubs can be found in the soil under the loose turf. They have stout white bodies curved in a C shape, light brown heads, with three pairs of legs at the head end. They are bigger than an adult beetle and, if straightened out, would be up to 18mm (almost 3/4in) long.
- Root damage in lawns means that the turf is easily rolled back and the grubs will be visibly seen.
There are other lawn pests that you may come across; your local lawn operative will be able to advise you accordingly.