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  • Writer's pictureChristina Wilson

Crane Fly Larvae: Everything You Need to Know

Crane fly larvae are little pests that can wreak serious havoc on your lawn or turf. Sometimes called “leatherjackets” for their tough outer skin, they are worm-like and green, white or brown in color. Crane fly larvae may be hard to find, because they hide underground during the day and surface on warm nights.

Issues you may experience from these pests include yellowing of the grass, to thinning or bare patches throughout the yard. Plus, predators such as skunks, birds and raccoons may try to dig up the ground to feed on the developing larvae.

Adult crane flies don’t bite or sting and live extremely short lives, so you should focus on eliminating the insects at the larval stage. In extreme cases of crane fly infestation, contacting a professional pest control specialist may be necessary. And we’d be happy to help!


If your lawn looks “eaten” in parts, you may be at risk. With this kind of infestation, you are likely to find uneven sections of grass that have been completely devoured, leaving only brown soil. Affected grasses may appear yellowed and unhealthy since they’re only receiving limited, or no, nutrients.

Once a crane fly larvae infestation gets extensive enough, holes may appear in your lawn overnight. These excavations are caused by skunks and other grub-loving predators as they search for crane fly larvae and other grubs.


To kill crane fly larvae, use a grub killer like Triazicide that contains azadirachtin to stop the infestation at the source—the soil, where they live and feed. When exposed to azadirachtin, a compound found in the seeds of neem, crane fly larvae are subjected to a natural growth inhibitor that halts their development. Even better, the azadirachtin breaks down within 7 to 10 days.

Azadirachtin or neem oil can be purchased at our local Wilco and applied directly to your lawn at the first sign of grub damage. Use according to the directions on the product label.

If you are concerned about a plant or unsure of how it will react to insecticide solutions, test an inconspicuous area of the plant and wait 24 hours before applying full coverage. Much like watering, avoid using any liquid insecticides in the heat of the day or in extreme temperatures.


Keep your lawn healthy! A healthy lawn can survive damage from lawn pests, as well as diseases and weeds. Following a lawn care schedule will help keep your lawn robust and lush, even if you have some crane fly larvae settle in your yard. Subscribe to our blog to get more tips on keeping your lawn healthy—and “Like” us on Facebook for monthly tips and tricks.

Have you had crane fly larvae in your yard? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

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