How the Leatherjacket grub is destroying UK gardens

If you’re a keen gardener, you’ll know that there are lots of challenges involved in creating and maintaining a beautiful outdoor space. From a lack of sunlight, poor quality soil, and damp conditions; to the threat of insects, animals and birds; gardeners have to contend with a wide range of possible obstacles in the process of creating their green oases.

One of the biggest problems currently facing gardeners in the UK is the leatherjacket grub. A serious issue in many parts of the country, the grub can damage your plants and your lawn and leave your garden looking tatty.

To help you deter the leatherjacket grub and avoid its damaging effects, take a look at our guide to this garden menace and make sure you’re prepared to tackle this badly behaved grub.

The leatherjacket grub

The leatherjacket grub is the larvae of the crane fly, commonly known as the daddy longlegs. Unlike its innocuous parent, the grub can seriously damage your garden, with lawns especially vulnerable to attack.

The larvae themselves are around 4cm long and are dark brown or grey in colour. Leatherjacket grubs live just below the grass and munch away on your lawn’s delicate roots as they build up the strength to transform into an adult fly. This results in brown patches appearing on your lawn, and though one or two won’t inflict too much damage, as Nemaslug says, daddy long legs “lay their eggs into the same piece of lawn each year, so an infestation can quickly escalate from a small brown patch to a full scale infestation”.

In Cambridgeshire, the new Trumpington Meadows Estate has been left virtually barren by the larvae, with similar outbreaks appearing in other parts of the county.

How to control the leatherjacket grubs

Though there are various ways to control and treat leatherjacket infestations, they are generally time consuming and not always effective. In order to treat an infestation, you’ll first need to kill all of the larvae living in your lawn. You can either do that using chemicals, biological agents or by picking them out of your turf one by one. You’ll then have to relay your lawn using turf or grass seed in order to create an attractive, uniform surface.

Alternatives to turf lawns

As it can be difficult to prevent leatherjackets from returning to your garden, a long term solution would be to replace your turf with tough and durable artificial grass. Unlike real grass, an artificial surface isn’t susceptible to leatherjacket larvae, ensuring you have a pristine lawn to enjoy throughout the year.

To find out more about how an artificial lawn could transform your garden, explore our site or get in touch with a member of our team.

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