Leather Jacket Problems: How To Control Them?

The problem with the leather jacket is that they are everywhere! They hide under rocks, in bushes, in your flowerbeds, even on your pets. You cannot get rid of them all but you can control some of them. Here are some ideas how to control leather jackets.

1) Use insecticides or other pesticides to kill them off before they hatch into adults (or larva).

2) Spray your grass with liquid dishwashing soap.

This will kill any eggs laying on it.

3) Sprinkle salt over the area where you see them – this will kill larvae and adults alike.

4) Use vinegar to wash away their slime from shoes and clothing.

Vinegar kills both adults and young ones too!

5) Make sure there are no holes in your fence or around your house for them to crawl through!

6) If you live in a city, try spraying your windows with water.

This will kill adult leather jackets and their eggs.

Leatherjacket Pests: Controlling Leatherjacket Larvae In Your Lawn - Picture

7) Try using garlic on the skin of your hands to make them itch less.

Garlic kills leather jackets and their eggs as well!

Insecticide Spray For Leather Jackets And Their Eggs In Lawns?

It is the most popular way to get rid of leather-jackets and their eggs. The problem with sprays is not just what they kill but also what they don’t kill! You can use some new age sprays that will only kill certain insects or you can use the old traditional ones such as Dursban that haven’t been used in years because they are so toxic to humans. The thing with the new sprays is that they don’t stay around long enough and need to be reapplied after a rain storm. The old Dursban and other traditional sprays will kill everything within the treatmment area for as long as it stays wet.

The problem with the new age sprays is that they are not cheap and because you have to re-apply them every few days, the expense adds up quickly. The old traditional sprays are cheap but the problem there is that they stay around for a long time, often times longer than you want to keep treating the area.

People have even used dish-soap and oil to kill them. The problem with those two are that they do not affect the eggs and do not stay on fabric as long as the old stuff does.

The best method is mixing old style sprays like dursban with oils or soaps. This allows for quick knockdown and a long lasting affect, if only for a few days. The problem is this type of spray can be expensive to make yourself.

Natural Ways To Get Rid Of leather-jackets Or Their Eggs On Property

1) You can use natural predators to get rid of the leather-jackets or their eggs.

One of the best is the hover fly as they are effective killers but do not stay around very long after killing everything in sight. You can try using other flying insects such as lady bugs or praying mantis to help you out.

2) You can manually pick them off.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds as the leather-jackets will try to hide in blades of grass, under edges of boards and many other places where they are not easily seen. It helps if you have some sort of gloves so you do not get bitten while on your hands and knees looking in crevasses and tight places.

3) If you have a swimming pool, chicken coop or other area that retains water for long periods of time, you can add mosquito fish and tad poles.

Leatherjacket Pests: Controlling Leatherjacket Larvae In Your Lawn - igrowplants.net

The tad poles will grow into frogs and eat the leather-jackets as they mature. While tadpoles aren’t as effective, mosquito fish work very well at killing all stages of the insects.

Cleaning Up After Killing Leather-Jackets With Sprays

1) If you used any sort of chemical spray, make sure you do not use that area for a couple of weeks.

The chemicals can build up and cause damage to whatever vegetation or animal life that comes in contact with them.

2) After using any of the above methods, make sure all vegetation is dead before removing it from your property.

If you used the natural predators (insects) then they will have already killed everything or significantly slowed them down and it is best to let the remaining bugs finish the leather-jackets off themselves. You can speed up this process by placing boards, stones or similar objects on top of any areas with eggs to prevent them from hatching.

3) When you are ready to remove the dead vegetation, don’t just throw it out with the rest of your trash.

You need to double bag it and put it in an isolated location, not your normal trash can. Check with your local waste management center on how to properly dispose of such things. You don’t want to contaminate other trash containers or the land-fill.

Keeping Leather-Jackets From Coming Back

After you have gotten rid of them and their eggs and cleaned up the area, you need to take steps to ensure they do not come back.

1) You can stop watering your grass.

Leatherjacket Pests: Controlling Leatherjacket Larvae In Your Lawn - Image

This will cause it to turn to dust and not be as appetizing to leather-jackets or other insects.

2) You can also add gravel to the areas that slugs and other small crawling insects are most likely to crawl through.

Most people are surprised to learn how many different types of insects there are that like to eat garden plants. It is amazing how much food some of these little mini-beasts can put down even while they are growing themselves.

Leather-jackets are very difficult to prevent from eating your plants. You have to be proactive and monitor their eggs or larvae on a regular basis as the adult insects themselves tend to only eat for a few minutes and then go away and hide somewhere. Most of the damage leather-jackets cause is from their eggs and larvae so if you regularly check for these, you can greatly reduce any potential damage they might cause.

If you have a large yard and actively maintain it yourself, you can go out every few days or so and check for eggs or larvae and remove them by hand. This is very tedious and time consuming but if you really don’t want leather-jackets in your yard, it is the most effective way to do it.

The other option is to get a bunch of chickens and let them run around your yard. They will naturally eat any and all insects that might be there. If you have a big yard then 4 or 5 chickens should keep it clear of leather-jackets and other pests.

I wouldn’t advise this if you have nice plants or anything that you don’t want pecked at by birds but if you just have grass then it shouldn’t be a problem.

Whatever you do, don’t use harmful pesticides, it will ruin the soil and have a negative effect on the environment in the long run. Also, with all your hard work in building up your property, you certainly don’t want to destroy it by poisoning the soil.

Of course if you have chickens then you aren’t really using harmful pesticides either…. you are simply letting nature take its course and balance itself out.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to David Olgard – All Rights Reserved

Sources & references used in this article:

Leatherjacket damage to grassland by JH White, N French – Grass and Forage Science, 1968 – Wiley Online Library

Economically important leatherjackets of grassland and cereals: biology, impact and control by RP Blackshaw, C Coll – Integrated Pest Management Reviews, 1999 – Springer

Biological control of leatherjackets with Bacillus thuringiensis by PH Smits, HJ Vlug, GL Wiegers – … and Applied Entomology of the Netherlands …, 1993 – nev.nl

The impact of low numbers of leatherjackets on grass yield by RP Blackshaw – Grass and Forage Science, 1984 – Wiley Online Library

Effect of the DD-136 nematode and of a β-exotoxin preparation of Bacillus thuringiensis var. thuringiensis on leatherjackets, Tipula paludosa larvae by ABQ Lam, JM Webster – Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 1972 – Elsevier

A preliminary comparison of some management options for reducing grass losses caused by leatherjackets in Northern Ireland by RP Blackshaw – Annals of applied biology, 1985 – Wiley Online Library

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