Friday, 10 October 2014


No-one sleeps while there's still a crane fly at large ...
There has been an invasion of crane flies lately - apparently due to the weather conditions. A combination of a hot summer followed by heavy rain showers and then a warm, dry period have seen them thriving in huge numbers. 
Crane flies - also known as Daddy-long-legs - start life as larvae called leatherjackets, which live in the soil feeding on decaying plant material. Unfortunately for lawn-proud gardeners they are also rather partial to healthy grass roots and can be responsible for creating yellowish brown dead patches - so don't be too quick to blame the dog! Check to see if there are leatherjackets at work by lifting a section of the affected turf and looking for them in the surface soil levels; alternatively soak the area with water, cover with a sheet of black polythene and next day roll it back to look for grubs on the surface under the cover.
There are no chemical controls for them - which I'm very happy about as there are already far too many chemicals to be found on the shelves of garden centres - but you can try using nematodes. And crows, magpies, rooks and starlings love the grubs and will search for them in the turf, stabbing down into it with their sharp beaks - so don't chase them off or let the dog scare them away while they are at work! 
When the larvae  hatch in the autumn into the familiar adult daddy-long-legs stage, they mate, competing ferociously with each other, during the remaining fortnight they live for. This is when they also move indoors and seem to be everywhere: no sooner have you shepherded one outdoors than a dozen more take its place. Archie hates them: at night I have to check around the bedroom while he sits watching me from his bed. Only when he is sure I have removed every last one will he then settle down to sleep. Really, it's true!

Crane fly trivia!
Crane flies have been voted the world's scariest creature in a recent poll - although personally I can think of a lot more scary ones I'd prefer not to share house space with: and it is thought there are around 14,000 different species.   
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