Stick around to get a fool-proof, actionable checklist on how to get rid of crane flies infesting at your house. Here are our tips on how to clear your home of crane fly infestation and crane fly damage.
Don’t be alarmed if you see what appears to be a giant mosquito buzzing around your garden or zipping around near the back porch light– it’s just a crane fly. Adult crane flies emerge from their underground pupation to mate and lay their eggs throughout the summer.
Of course, crane flies and lawn damage could go hand in hand, despite the fact that many are beneficial decomposers. Crane flies are also called mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters, or daddy long legs, but they actually look like giant mosquitoes!
Although crane flies’ unsettling appearance might tell you otherwise, crane flies are less harmful than regular mosquitos. While one fly won’t give you much trouble, you should start to worry once you’ve got an infestation situation on your lawn.
It’s then time to consider ways to get rid of crane flies in your home.
How Can You Identify Crane Flies?
We know adult crane flies can look alarming when you first spot them but trust us, they won’t bite. In their adult stage as grown flies, they only like to feed off of flower nectars and drink water on occasion.
It can be tricky to spot this pest, as there are over 500 species of adult crane flies in North America alone. Plus, if you count the staggering similarity between adult crane flies and mosquitos, you might get overwhelmed trying to know what you’re dealing with.
What Do They Look Like?
Crane flies feed on decaying leaves in their native habitats, but the European species preys on pastures and lawns. European crane flies are also called leather jackets. They have skinny bodies but possess tough skin.
These European crane flies lay eggs in wet soil and the eggs hatch in the fall. Meanwhile, the crane fly larvae feed on green grass blades. These little worms feed on organic matter as well until winter. You’d likely find them in moist areas in your home. This is why lawn care is crucial to getting rid of them.
Leatherjackets consume every part of the grass plants, including the roots, crowns, and blades.
In the spring, damaged grasses thin and irregular brown patches die away to reveal how severe the harm is. In the late summer, you’d find that these mosquito hawk populations and their larvae continue to pupate just beneath the soil surface.
Once you’ve determined if an infestation exists, you should then consider the various ways to rid of crane flies before they cause significant damage.
The Life Cycle of Leatherjackets
These flies, like other fly species, go through a full metamorphosis with four distinct stages: eggs, larva, pupa, and adult. Female flies lay up to 300 eggs, and within two weeks of being deposited, the eggs would hatch.
Mosquitos vs. Crane Flies
If you want to make sure you’re handling a crane fly infestations rather than a mosquito, there are a few features you can use to identify them. Adult crane flies are about an inch long and are equipped with two large wings and two smaller ones, named halteres.
Mosquitos are blood-suckers, so they’re naturally endowed with a cannular mouth. A gentle giant like crane flies wouldn’t need that. Adult crane flies don’t even have a mouth because all they do is mate and lay eggs.
Adult Crane Fly Larvae
Once they’ve hatched, crane flies only have one thing on their mind; finding their mate and breeding. Crane flies don’t get to be adults for long. They spend 95% of their lives in their larval stage.
During that larval stage, crane flies build up fats to survive as adults. These seemingly enormous mosquitos emerge from beneath the ground to mate with female crane flies and eventually lay eggs.
They’re the real issue when it comes to infestations due to their feeding habits. What do crane flies eat? Crane fly larvae eat roots, grass blades, and other garden plants.
You’ll know you have a crane fly infestation in your lawn once you see some yellowish or brown patches and damaged grass beds. Unfortunately, it’s part of the crane flies’ diet.
Once you see these things, you’d know that its time to get rid of crane flies that’s infesting your yard and implement a lawn care schedule.
The Types of Crane Flies
In 1965, the common European crane fly discovered in Western North America for the first time while the marsh crane flies were very recently discovered in the Pacific Northwest.
The marsh crane flies produce numerous births every year, whereas the ordinary European crane fly produces just one.
Because of their comparable origins and appearances, as well as the damage they inflict, both crane fly species are frequently referred to as European crane fly. These insects prefer to live in areas where there is a lot of rain.
You can find them in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California, among other places.
Do Crane Flies Bite?
Because adult crane flies do not bite or sting and have such short lifespans, homeowners should concentrate on learning how to get rid of crane flies while they are still larval stage.
Where Can You Spot Crane Flies?
Crane flies and moisture go together like PB&J. These bugs love wet areas. Female crane flies have to search for the most optimal environment to house their eggs.
These areas can include lakes, rivers, under some leaves, ditches, and underground moist soil. Yes, the latter includes your green, luscious lawn.
The best way to find out if your soil is housing some leatherjackets is to chop a square section from your lawn and inspect it. If you see some wriggling action, look closer. Crane-fly larvae can be green, white, or brown.
Once you spot some crane fly larvae, it’s time to start your pest control. Before you start, check out below when crane flies’ season is to get a head start.
This will ultimately help in timing your action plan and determining the right course of action to get rid of crane flies in your home.
Seasonal Preferences of Crane Flies
Like most insects in our ecosystem, crane flies can come in higher volumes during specific seasons. Crane-fly larvae are mostly found in the spring. These flies will be nibbling away at your lawn during May and April.
Control Crane Flies and Get Rid of Them
Luckily for you and your lawn, most of the techniques are natural. Here are some steps to get rid of crane flies.
1. Employ Nature’s Food Chain
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Since crane fly larvae are an invasive species, you’d be doing mother nature a favor by attracting natural predators or birds to your home.
One of the best and simplest ways to get rid of these mosquito eaters is to encourage birds to your yard. Birds, including robins and starlings, are natural predators, and these birds eat crane flies.
You can hang bird feeders to lure birds to your yard, and provide nesting places for these birds. Install a bird bath to attract birds, but change the water periodically to keep mosquitoes from breeding.
According to research, you can also use fungi to kill crane fly larvae in your soil. Using the biological insecticide will give you a bug-free lawn in around four weeks after application.
2. Use Essential Oils
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This technique is more beneficial if you’re targeting adult crane flies. You can use a variety of essential oils, like lavender, peppermint, garlic, lemongrass, and onion.
To get started, you’ll need a spray bottle. Use the ratio of one drop of oil to one cup of water. Mix it up in your spray bottle. Then, spritz the formula all over your garden and close to your doors and windows.
This mixture will ward off any female leatherjackets from laying its eggs on your lawn. If you wish to go the extra mile, you can purchase a spray diffuser, attach it to your hose, and add the essential oil to your water. That’ll give you a more thorough diffusion.
3. Chemical Solutions
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Killing crane fly larvae using insecticides is an easier fix. That being said, you need to make sure you apply the chemical at the right time. Be sure to choose a pesticide in liquid or granular form that you would be comfortable using.
The most commonly used insecticides are pyrethroids and imidacloprid. Always make sure to read the instructions carefully. These products can sometimes be harmful and irritable when you’re exposed to them.
Be sure to wear protective clothing like a mask or a pair of gloves when using these chemicals. Use a garden sprayer to insure your safety.
Crane Fly Infestation – Maintenance Tips to Avoid Them
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Let’s face it, killing these flies won’t permanently get rid of your infestation. These mosquito hawks can still come if your lawn is unkempt. Follow these tips to ensure a bug-free zone on your lawn.
This will help get rid of nesting sites. Since these insects love moisture, too much water will keep them coming to your foliage. Your lawn will survive with moderately dry soil.
The denser your soil, the more prone it will be to attracting pests and diseases. Rake your lawn to loosen up your thatches. You can do this yearly. Make sure to maintain a healthy lawn.
Aerate your lawn.
If your soil is getting too wet already, aerating it will dry it up. Get all that build-up out into the open and let it breathe. Aeration and proper drainage will prevent conditions for laying eggs.
Fertilize your grass.
This tip is vital because the fertilizer will make your soil more water-absorbent. This, in turn, will prevent a muddy mess from forming, which will attract these insects.
Mow your lawn regularly.
A thick lawn is bound to be a hotspot for breeding these insects. These mosquito hawks can cause a lot of damage to plant roots. They like feeding during warm nights, and are especially active in the late summer.
Cover all affected areas.
To destroy existing pests and prevent additional damage, cover all affected areas completely.
Leatherjackets do not live long and are not dangerous, so focus your control efforts on their larvae, the worm like insects.
By reducing habitat, increasing turfgrass vigor, and using beneficial nematodes, you can effectively reduce crane fly populations without using dangerous chemicals on your lawn.
In the fight against these insects, dethatching and lawn aeration are essential; implement a lawn care schedule that will help control the crane fly damage and get rid of crane flies. This will help control the crane fly populations from destroying your yard.
Crane Fly Problem – Conclusion
A few leatherjackets is not an issue, but if you see about 80 mosquito eaters per square foot, then you have a serious fly problem.
If all else fails, you could always hire a local professional to assist you in getting rid of your crane fly problem and getting your lawn healthy again. Nevertheless, we hope you never encounter any creepy crawly insects after implementing your action plan.
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