How to combat this garden pest?

The crane fly, more commonly known as the cousin, is an insect that measures between 1 and 2.5 cm in size. It has long legs and thin wings. In the garden, the adult crane does no harm, but the larvae can cause great damage. Here are some tips to control the crane fly, and more specifically its larvae.

Features of the crane fly

Harmless to humans, the crane feeds on water and juice. In addition, it does not sting. Leather jackets are visible in the spring and late summer. During this period, the females lay hundreds of black eggs and expel them into the lawn. The eggs hatch in the fall and the larvae then begin their life in the soil.

It is from March to June that the larvae grow and it is also during this time that they attack garden plants. They usually start with carrots, rhizomes, but also through the lower leaves. We see the presence of these larvae when the lawn turns yellow.

In the vegetable garden, the plants most often attacked by crane fly larvae lettucethe strawberriesthe cabbagebut also the potatoes

crane fly
Credit: ErikAgar/iStock

How to fight against the crane fly?

The natural enemies of the larva are an excellent means of keeping the leather jacket under control. Among them are the hedgehogsthe molesbut also some birds like the blackbird† Bats especially appreciate adult leather jackets.

The larvae often nest in fairly moist places. One regular tillage will drain the excess moisture and complicate the development of the larvae.

As with most garden pests, practicing a crop rotation will serve as a preventive measure against the appearance of this insect.

Finally, it is also possible to capture† To do this, when it has rained and the ground is very wet, place a large black plastic piece, such as a large garbage bag, at nightfall. The next day it will have attracted the larvae and all that is left is to eliminate them.

In addition, when their presence is too high, it is possible to use insecticides often based on pyrethrum to get rid of them.