During the months of June, July and August crane fly larvae remain as non-feeding pupae. In early August, the pupae begin to move to the turf surface where the adult crane fly emerges. The European crane fly (Tipula paludosa) adult will be emerging from early August through September. After emerging, the adults, who look like oversized mosquitoes, mate and lay eggs within 24 hours. Approximately two weeks later, the eggs hatch into small brown (maggots) that begin to feed on roots, stems and leaves. The larvae, which become rather large (> 1 in length) will remain underground during the day, but will surface to feed on foliage during damp, warm nights. Where damage occurs on putting greens, the symptoms often look like cutworm damage.
Photograph 1. An adult crane fly. It often looks like a giant mosquito.
The larvae will continue to feed and molt during the winter months. Larvae don’t seem to be an attractive food for birds. This is probably due in part to the fact that they develop a tough skin, which is probably where the common English name “leather jacket” comes from.
Photograph 2. An adult female and male will mate; producing eggs that will be laid. The eggs will hatch within two weeks.
Turf damage is most evident in early spring. On higher cut turf, like lawns, bare or sparse turf areas are evident. On golf greens damage initially appears similar to black cutworms. The best time to control the European crane fly is in the spring. This fall however observing the European crane fly adult populations may be a good indicator of how severe the larvae problem will be next spring.
Photograph 3. A crane fly larva will feed on the turf. Often symptoms are similar to cutworm damage.
Acelepryn® and Ference® are two available insecticides that can control European crane fly. Both products are applied for other caterpillars or weevils providing season long control. Potentially European crane fly is controlled with these products applied to other insect pests. For more information on controlling Crane flies, take a look at this solution sheet from Syngenta.
Photograph 4. Crane fly pupa. (courtesy of Dr. David Shetlar)
About the author
Dr. Karl Danneberger is a professor of Turfgrass Science at The Ohio State University. Dr. Danneberger's contact information can be found here. You may also follow Dr. Danneberger on Twitter: