Look familiar? We are seeing a lot of crane flies this time of year and although commonly mistaken for mosquitoes, they do not rely on blood meals to survive.
The crane fly is a long-legged, skinny-bodied insect that can attract a lot of attention due to its resemblance to one of the most despised insect pests but they do not feed on humans. The larvae, however, are occasional turfgrass pests, particularly in the northeastern US. Larvae are approximately 2-3 inches long with no legs so they should not be confused with caterpillar pest species. They will chew on roots and crowns and, as they get larger, start to come up to the turf surface at night to feed. Damage starts as general thinning of the turf and can progress to large, brown patches with heavy infestations. To check for crane larvae presence, apply two tablespoons of lemon-scented dish soap in a gallon of water to the damaged area and watch for several minutes for larvae to emerge. Damage is most noticeable in the spring and the late fall when the larvae are large and constantly feeding. Chemical application is usually not necessary as maintaining a healthy soil environment will encourage turf to outgrow any damage. It treatment is required, please refer to our current recommendations for Crane Fly Larvae control on Turffiles.