Leather Jackets and Nematodes: An Unlikely Duo in Gardening

Gardening is a diverse field, where one can expect the unexpected. The title “Leather Jackets and Nematodes” might evoke images of rock concert attire and microscopic life forms, but in this blog, we’re delving into their significance in gardening and how they impact our lawns and plants.

What Are Leather Jackets?

When gardeners hear “leather jackets,” they’re not thinking about trendy outerwear, but rather the larvae of crane flies, commonly known as “daddy long legs.” These larvae get their name from their tough, leather-like outer skin, which protects them during the winter months. Leather jackets can become a nuisance in gardens and lawns because they feed on the roots of grasses and other plants, causing damage and bare patches in lawns.

Problems Caused by Leather Jackets

Leather jackets feed on the roots and stems of grass, causing unsightly patches in your lawn. As they mature, they can also eat the roots of other plants, resulting in stunted growth and even plant death. If you notice brown patches on your lawn or plants wilting unexpectedly, it could be the work of leather jackets.

What Are Nematodes?

Nematodes are microscopic worms that can be beneficial or harmful, depending on the type. In the context of leather jackets, we’re interested in nematodes that are natural predators to these larvae. Specifically, the species Steinernema feltiae is commonly used in biological pest control. These nematodes target leather jackets by entering their bodies and releasing bacteria that ultimately kill the larvae.

Using Nematodes to Control Leather Jackets

Nematodes offer an environmentally friendly solution to leather jacket infestations. Here’s how they work:

Application:  It’s crucial to keep the area moist for a few weeks after application to allow the nematodes to move through the soil and find their prey.

Effectiveness: Once inside the leather jacket larvae, the nematodes release bacteria that kill the larvae within a few days. The nematodes then reproduce within the dead larvae, ready to continue their life cycle and hunt for more pests.

Environmentally Friendly: Unlike chemical pesticides, nematodes are safe for other beneficial insects, pets, and humans. They offer a natural and sustainable way to manage leather jackets without harming the broader ecosystem.

Leather Jackets and Nematodes: The Takeaway

Leather jackets can be a significant problem for gardeners, leading to damaged lawns and stressed plants. However, nematodes offer a natural and effective solution. If you’re facing an infestation, consider using nematodes as part of your pest control strategy. Not only will you protect your garden, but you’ll also be supporting a healthier, more sustainable environment.

If you’re interested in Clive’s Gardening Services sorting your leather jackets with a  nematode treatment or want advice on managing garden pests, reach out to us now.