Green-keepers and turf managers should take steps to control leather-jacket (crane-fly lava) populations as soon as possible to protect turf through the rest of the winter and spring.
That’s the message from Dow AgroSciences’ Chris Pye who warns that leather-jacket damage to grass reduces the health of the plant. This means the plant is less able to cope with stressful conditions such as prolonged periods of drought or water-logging, disease attacks, heavy wear from players or intensive management.
“At this time of year damage often goes unseen as it is underground and out of sight,” explained Chris Pye, “and problems on the surface are frequently attributed to other factors such as drought or stress. Turf grass growth is slowing so it cannot compensate for the damage caused. The first visible signs of trouble are straw-coloured patches of turf in late spring and summer.
“Although leather-jacket numbers in some parts of the country are not as high as 1999 – which saw some of the worst infestations for many years – turf in all situations is still very much at risk.”
Leather-jackets thrive in warm, moist conditions so cultural operations such as spiking or slitting prevent excess surface moisture, improve turf aeration and help create an adverse environment for these pests.
“A combination of these operations and use of a proven insecticide, such as Lorsban T, will give effective control,” advised Mr Pye whose company products are distributed through Rigby Taylor.
“Turf managers are advised to match insecticide applications to the more susceptible immature larval stage of the pest to achieve the most effective control. A well planned integrated pest management approach can be extremely effective at keeping leather-jacket numbers down – but the timing of every process is crucial for good results.”