Crane Fly Larvae – Lawn Talk Podcast

Lawn Talk with Harold Enger – Podcast Transcription

Episode: Crane Fly Larvae

Tim Kauffold: Welcome to Lawn Talk, I’m your host Tim Kauffold. Lawn Talk is a series of conversations with Spring-Green lawn care professionals. Joining me is Harold Enger. Harold has worked in the Green Industry for nearly 30 years and is a Certified Turfgrass and Ornamental Landscape professional. Crane fly larvae are the topic of this episode of Lawn Talk. Harold, where are crane fly larvae going to be an issue for homeowners?

Harold Enger: Well, it’s going to be an issue in their lawn. Let me tell you a little bit about the crane fly. People see crane flies throughout the country, and for the most part, they are not considered a problem. But in the Pacific Northwest, they have a variety called the European crane fly, an introduced species, which has developed a taste for turfgrass. And the crane flies look like large mosquitoes. They are about an inch long, and they cause a lot of dis-concern. You may have seen them in your house in the summer time, in the late summer, and early fall. They hatch around the same time in the Pacific Northwest towards the end of summer in a large mass, and you have crane flies everywhere. People think they are these giant mosquitoes that are going to carry them away. They don’t really do anything. They are just there for one reason, and that’s to find a mate and lay eggs. So, once they die after they have laid their eggs, the eggs will stay in the ground for a couple of weeks. Then, they will hatch in the late summer, early fall, usually late September or early October. The larva, which are about an inch long, are legless. If you like bugs, they just aren’t a very attractive bug, they are brown, they have what look like two little eyes, and they are often called leather jackets because they have this brownish cover on their skin. Depending on the weather conditions, if it’s warm, the larvae will surface, and feed throughout the winter- December and January,  and into the spring. But for the most part, they will do most of their feeding in February and March and through April, so that’s when you are going to see most of the damage.

Tim: And what is that damage going to look like in my lawn?

Harold: Well, it looks like the lawn is just beginning to thin out for no apparent reason. Grass plants will begin to disappear. Another problem is a lot of birds are attracted to the crane fly for a meal for themselves, so you’ll see a lot of bird activity, pulling up the lawn and making holes, looking for the larvae to feed on.

Tim:  If they are going to potentially hatch in September or October, when should I be treating the lawn to deal with these?

Harold: Birds do a pretty good job in controlling some of the crane fly, but if they make it through the winter and survive into the spring that’s when we do a treatment. Now if you have a reoccurring problem with crane fly, we sometimes suggest putting down a preventative control in the fall that will control the larvae when they first hatch. But for the most part, we do most of our applications in February, March, April—in that time frame.

Tim: Is there anything I can do to control the adult crane fly from even landing in my lawn to put the eggs down?

Harold: Not really. They don’t feed. They don’t do anything except procreate. That’s their whole purpose in life, so they won’t  live but two or three days and they are gone. It’s a big swell in the population of the adults, and then, they basically disappear.

Tim: If you would like to know more about services available from your local Spring-Green lawn care professional, visit the Spring-Green web site, at  There you will find more detailed information, including how to contact a Spring-Green lawn care professional in your area. This has been Lawn Talk, an on-going series for homeowners looking to protect and enjoy their outdoor investment, brought to you by Spring-Green Lawn Care and its many local lawn care professionals nationwide.

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Thanks and have a green day!

For more, visit our crane fly control page.