If you discover a giant mosquito flying around your garden or zipping near your back porch light, do not panic. It’s only a crane fly!
Throughout the summer months, adult crane flies emerge from below the ground to mate and lay their eggs. Even though they are considered beneficial decomposers, they can also cause lawn damage. Thus, you may need to consider getting rid of them before they cause damage to your plants.
Every insect is different. Likewise, methods on how to get rid of crane flies and other insects vary. Crane flies are different from normal flies and they must be treated differently.
Crane Fly Facts You Need to Know Before You Can Effectively Get Rid of Them
Crane flies are distant relatives of mosquitoes and flies. Unlike mosquitoes and flies, this type of insects does not bite or spread any diseases. However, crane flies infestation in your garden can be problematic.
The emerging larva of crane flies can be the most problematic stage. Their larvae are white, long worm like insects that can measure up to one and a half inches long. The larva feed on the roots of turf grass lawns, which cause brown patches on an otherwise perfectly landscaped green grass.
On warm nights, the crane fly larvae also emerge to feed on the crowns and the grass blades, which further damage the lawn. If you do not address the infestation, this can definitely cause a widespread disaster.
Crane flies prefer to stay in areas where the soil is moist or where organic materials are abundant.
What Does a Crane Fly Infestation Look Like?
If you have crane fly infestation, your yard or lawn may look ‘eaten’ in some parts. Your lawn will have uneven sections of grass with parts completely devoured and left with only brown soil. Your grass may also appear unhealthy and yellowed.
Your lawn may also have large holes where skunks and other insect predators dug into the ground to find crane fly larvae. You will also likely encounter the flapping adult crane flies dive bombing your face during the night.
Failsafe Ways to Get Rid of Crane Flies
Since adult crane flies do not live long and are not really dangerous, your crane fly control efforts should be targeted primarily in getting rid of crane fly larvae.
Crane fly control primarily involves reducing the insect’s habitat, using beneficial nematodes and increases the vigor of your lawn grass. If you are able to do all of these, you can significantly reduce crane fly population and completely eradicate the infestation in your lawn or garden.
Here are a few effective ways that can help get rid of crane fly infestations:
Natural and Organic Pest Controls
It is always best to use natural and organic pest controls rather than commercially developed ones. An effective method to control these pests is through using insecticidal soap and pyrethrins.
This can be used safely if proper formulation and directions of use are followed. Pyrethrins sprays can result in the paralysis of the crane flies, which will eventually cause their death. Pyrethrins are considered a class of organic compounds which are normally derived from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium, which has an insecticidal property that targets the nervous system of the insects.
Aside from the use of pyrethrins, the use of a grub killer containing Azadirachtin can also stop the infestation at its source, which would be on the soil. Azadirachtin is a chemical compound that is a secondary metabolite found in neem seeds. This method is highly effective in controlling the larvae as it suffocates them over time.
You can apply the insecticidal soap and pyrethrin as soon as you notice crane flies in your lawn or garden. Azadirachtin, on the other hand, should be applied directly to the lawn as soon as you notice the first sign of grub damage.
Natural and organic solutions are often considered the best option in controlling pests, as they quickly break down into their natural elements. They also leave less residual where they are applied, which will cause less detrimental effects on the environment.
Allow Natural Predators in Your Garden But in Moderation
Natural predators of crane flies include skunks, birds, and other grub-eating animals. You can make use of this method but only in moderation, as some of these predators can also cause damage to your lawn.
These natural predators will dig into the ground to find the crane fly larvae. When they dig, they will cause unsightly holes on your lawn. Birds usually eat and pick the larvae during the daytime. However, skunks and other grub-eating animal come out at night to hunt on the larvae.
Environmental Pest Controls
Since crane flies often appear to like moist environments, you have to make sure that your lawn is not too moist. You should check for poor drainage and make sure that irrigation is avoided at specific times in the life cycle of crane flies. You should also consider removing the crane fly larvae, as this will help control the infestation.
You should not water your lawn at the time when the crane fly lay their eggs and the time when the larvae begin to develop. You should check and repair poor drainage around your home and on your yard.
To manually remove the larvae, you can go out at night and rake them up. Larvae often come out at night and they are also easier to spot during this time.
Implement a Lawn Care Regimen
A well-managed lawn is a healthy lawn. You should implement a lawn care regimen and this regimen must include dethatching and aerating your lawn at least once every year. However, if your thatch is thick, you should consider implementing these steps often.
You should consider reducing the water that you apply to your lawn. Most grasses are okay with moderately dry soil, as long as they receive ample amounts of water during watering.
You should also make it a habit to clean your lawn. You have to remove dead plants, fallen leaves, and puddles on your lawn, as they can attract the crane flies.
You should cut your lawn regularly at least once a week during the summer months. The cut grass should be well kept out of the way.
Start Getting Rid of those Pesky Crane Flies and Their Larvae
Now that you know how to get rid of crane flies infestation in your garden, you can now start getting rid of them.
Keeping your lawn in tip-top shape does not only include regularly watering your plants and grass but also making sure that it is not infested with any pests. With these methods, you can definitely get rid of the infestation quickly and effectively.