Key signs of leather jackets and chafer grubs in your lawn

How and when to use lawn feeds and treatments

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Autumn is an ideal time to repair worn-out lawns before winter arrives, and damage caused by seasonal pests is just one thing to look out for. Chafer grubs and leather jackets are a particular problem for gardeners at this time of year when the small insects reach maturity after summer. Preventing these common lawn grubs from feasting on your grass is the best way to control them, though lawn experts have shared a few tips to get rid of them if you are already dealing with an infestation.

Chafer grubs are larvae of the chafer beetles which hatch from their eggs around June and July.

According to an expert at Greensleeves Lawn Care, the grubs “can mean real trouble if found in your garden”, and are most noticeable in autumn when they cause significant damage to the grass.

Leather jackets are larvae of crane flies which also feast on grassroots, and both pests can leave turf easy to peel away from the soil in severe cases of an infestation.

Signs of chafer grubs and leather jackets

Experts at garden retailer ProKleen said: “Your lawn will start to look noticeably sparse, or it may appear blotchy and yellow before disappearing altogether.

“As chafer grubs spend a lot of time feeding from autumn right through to late spring, many gardeners just assume it’s an unrelated winter disease.”

However, there are two key signs to look for that are clear indicators of a grub infestation.

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Predators

As well as eating the roots of your lawn, these nuisance pests also attract hungry predators that often worsen the damage.

Greensleeves Lawn Care explained that this secondary impact is caused by larger mammals attempting to eat the grubs in your garden.

If you notice a large number of birds ripping up your lawn, it is usually a clear sign that you have chafer grubs.

Crows are one of the most common species to prey on chafer grubs, though foxes can worsen the problem by digging deeper for these nutritious critters.

Yellow patches

Visible damage to your lawn is another telltale sign of garden grubs eating the grass.

According to lawn experts, yellow patches are typical of this kind of infestation.

The discolouration occurs when the roots are feast upon and detached from the top of the turf, preventing nutrients from being absorbed.

While chafer beetles and crane flies are harmless to garden grass as adults, their larvae cause significant damage between hatching and reaching maturity.

How to get rid of lawn pests

Getting rid of leather jackets and chafer grubs isn’t always easy, with few natural remedies known to work on these pests.

Specialist treatments do exist, though neem oil or nematodes are a good option if you’re on a budget.

Before applying any treatment, Greensleeves Lawn Care recommended mowing and spiking the grass to ensure it penetrates the roots of the grass.

Experts at ProKleen warned that some remedies can have undesirable effects on the rest of the lawn or other “helpful” wildlife.

In this case, it is best to sow fresh grass seed to replace damaged grass after repairing the lawn.

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