Garden AdviceLeather jackets or Why Your Lawn is Dying in Patches
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People tend to mix up crane flies with mosquitoes due to their similar physical features. Significantly larger, crane flies can seem intimidating, but they are not as scary as our imagination depicts. Crane flies are not harmful to people, however, they can affect the health of your lawn.
In this post, we’ll explain how to differentiate crane flies from mosquitoes and, based on that, find a proper solution to your problem. So, if you:
Then keep on reading!
The biggest and the most noticeable similarity between crane flies and mosquitoes are their appearances. No wonder crane flies are commonly mistaken for large mosquitoes. These flying insects have extremely long legs, elongated faces that are often mistaken for proboscis, and widely spread wings. Unless you have both types of insects in front of you, it’s easy to assume that a large mosquito has gotten into your house.
Just like mosquitos, crane flies can sometimes lay eggs next to water sources. They choose undisturbed water surfaces, so their larvae can be safe there and have all the important nutrients to consume for healthy development.
Despite the small resemblance in appearances and sometimes habitat, mosquitoes and crane flies have barely anything in common. If you look closer at the anatomy of a crane fly, you will notice that it has a prolonged body with slender legs. Crane flies have straight bodies, whereas mosquitoes have a bent thorax and abdomen. However, the biggest difference between the two is the size – crane flies can grow up to 8 cm long, and a mosquito is usually small, about 0.5-1.5 cm long.
Their infestation patterns are also quite different. Even though both of the insects infest outdoor spaces, they choose their breeding grounds differently. Mosquitoes lay eggs on water, because the larvae will later feed on the microorganisms in it. Crane fly larvae, also called leatherjackets, live off plant roots, grasses, and algae. This is why they can be found in your lawn and sometimes next to bodies of water.
Another significant difference between crane flies and mosquitoes is that crane flies do not bite. If you see one in your house, it most likely got attracted by the light and got stuck inside. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, can choose your house as a breeding ground, if they find an open-water source, and will feed on you.
Now that you know the similarities and the differences between mosquitoes and crane flies, let’s take a look at each of them individually.
Crane fly is the common name for any insect of the Tipulidae family. This thumb-sized flying insect has a slender body, long legs, and smoke-coloured wings. The prolonged body makes it an extremely clumsy flier, which is why their flying looks more like wobbling.
In the UK, adult crane flies emerge in late summer up until mid-autumn. For 10 to 15 days of a crane fly’s life, its sole purpose is to find a mating partner and lay eggs in a moist vegetative habitat. Shortly after, the eggs will hatch and the off-white larvae will start feeding. The leatherjackets remain in the soil throughout the winter or until they are fully grown to pupate. In 2-3 weeks of pupating, the new “batch” of crane flies is ready to reproduce.
The majority of the feeding happens during their larval stage. They eat plant roots, decaying leaves, and other organic matter in the soil. The adult species occasionally feed on nectar.
More often than not, we notice crane flies when we hear them banging on a ceiling, around a light source. It happens because the adult insects are nocturnal and attracted to light. On the other hand, the larvae live underground and search for roots, leaves, and grass to feed on during their development.
Crane flies don’t bite people or animals, therefore they can not transfer diseases and harm people’s health like mosquitoes. However, the larvae of these flies are considered pests and can damage your lawn. The lawn can turn yellow and develop brown patches.
You might try to kill crane flies with a bug zapper or even a sandal, however, it may not make any difference, because this will not put an end to the problem. That said, here is how to handle the situation properly:
The first thing that you need to do is make sure that you are dealing with crane flies.
If you suspect that you have larvae infesting your lawn, look for birds pecking the grass. They will leave a lot of small holes in an attempt to pull out the worms. Also, your lawn might start looking patchy closer to spring, as this is the time when leatherjackets feed more actively.
The best way to control the crane fly infestation is by exterminating the insects during the larval stage. Nematodes are the natural and the most effective way of killing leatherjackets. All you need to do is add them to the moist lawn during spring or autumn, when the weather is not hot.
To make sure that the leatherjackets will not come back the next season, you need to keep your lawn healthy. Check if your garden drains well, mow your lawn regularly, and remove debris from your yard. And if you struggle to find time to maintain your garden, you can always book a professional garden maintenance service.
We’ve all been bitten by a mosquito at least once. But do we really know why they need our blood? Well, let’s find out.
Just like crane flies, mosquitoes have thin bodies and long legs, but they are significantly smaller. Using the antennae on top of their head, these insects can sense the carbon dioxide that people and animals breathe out and the movement of the air. Female mosquitoes use a proboscis, an elongated part of the month, to suck out blood. Both males and females have it. However, the male’s proboscis is too weak to pierce through skin, so they use it to drink nectar, which also makes them good pollinators.
Mosquitoes are also quite good at flying. Their wings and high sensitivity allows them to move fast and avoid any obstacles around them.
The short answer is yes – there are mosquitoes in the UK. In fact, the UK is home to 34 native mosquito species. Luckily, there are no vector mosquitoes (those that spread pathogens), so, if you get bitten, you shouldn’t worry much.
Mosquitoes are seasonal pests and mainly associated with summer. However, they can start being active as early as April and continue terrorising the population until September. During this period, female mosquitoes will lay eggs. Once they are ready, they will search for an undisturbed water surface. One female can lay up to 200 eggs. Eggs will hatch within several weeks, and larvae will develop in water sources. In the next stage, the larvae will pupate, still underwater, and soon after that, adult mosquitoes will emerge.
Mosquito larvae feed on bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms in water. Pupae remain still and go through a transformation process for several days, therefore they don’t eat at all. Adult mosquitoes’ diet includes not only blood, but also flower nectar. This fact is overlooked by many, as we often see mosquitoes only when they decide to hunt on us.
Unfortunately, their passion for blood turns some of them into dangerous transmitters of harmful and even fatal diseases. Malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever are some of many others. Vector mosquitoes (those that transmit diseases) often thrive in hot and humid climate conditions.
The way mosquitoes choose their prey is quite fascinating. There are several criteria that make you more susceptible to mosquito bites. They include:
There are several proven ways to prevent mosquito bites:
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. A flowerpot, uncleaned gutter, or dog bowl can serve as a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Installing a mosquito screen on your windows or doors can prevent mosquitoes from entering your house.
Different brands of mosquito repellents are available in shops and vary in concentration and active ingredients. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, search for the ones with the higher concentration. Check the instructions to find out how often you need to use it. Effective repellents should contain DEET (diethyltoluamide), Icaridin (Picardin), Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD), or IR3535.
Try to avoid dark clothing or floral perfumes. Consider wearing loose-fitting clothes, as mosquitoes can bite through clothing that fits tightly. Long sleeves, high necklines, long trousers, and skirts can save you from nasty mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes avoid entering properties with constant air-conditioning. Because they are cold-blooded, they seek warmer places. By turning on air-conditioning, you can suppress the mosquito activity in your house.
If you have an outdoor mosquito problem, we suggest checking out our “How to Repel Mosquitoes In Your Garden” guide. It breaks down all the internet myths about mosquito repelling techniques and how effective they are.
Sometimes DIY methods can be useless against mosquitoes. Even if you manage to get rid of adult species, mosquitoes lay a lot of eggs in just 2 weeks. Lack of professional equipment and pest extermination knowledge can turn a small infestation into a recurring problem. Don’t spend your time and nerves on something that is out of your control – get a professional fogging treatment instead!
Fogging is a method of pest extermination that uses a special ULV fogger to spread a powerful insecticide in your house. All you need to do is share the problematic areas in your house with the pest controllers, and they will handle the job afterwards. This method is also perfectly suitable for other pests like moths, flies, ants, and even wasps. So, what are you waiting for? Book your fogging treatment with Fantastic Services today!
Find a pest controller to take care of it.
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Image source: Shutterstock / Revilo Lessen, Achkin