Protecting the grass while feeding the birds

Jan 27, 2021 | Jenni Ashford

Over the past couple of weeks the greenkeepers have been carrying out some good old-fashioned greenkeeping – namely, the removal of the cranefly larvae (leatherjackets otherwise known as daddy-long-legs) from the golf greens.

Damage to the grass is caused by the leatherjackets feeding on the roots of the grass plants, and their presence attracting hungry birds peaking and tearing at the surface.

Using natural methods is always our preference at the club as we avoid using pesticides whenever we can. Instead of applying chemicals to kill the leatherjackets, we give Mother Nature a helping hand to speed up the natural food chain process.

On milder, less breezy evenings, our greens staff have been placing tarpaulins on the greens overnight. The tarpaulin or silage sheet encourages the leatherjackets to come to the surface.

In the morning, when the tarpaulins are removed, the areas of grass can then be swept or picked clean. The leatherjackets beneath can then be used to feed the birds and fish.

If your lawn suffers from leatherjackets, you can use this same method to reduce the damage.

If the leatherjackets are not removed, they can decimate a lawn or grass patch. This is a photo of our 3rd plus white tee last spring, which was damaged in this way.

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While leatherjackets are only one of several dangers to the surfaces during winter, dealing with them quickly and efficiently is always a priority for the greenkeepers; not only does it prevent damage to the greens, but it also provides us with means to feed our local wildlife, control insect populations, and carry out other operations – like mowing the greens – without risk of causing long-term damage.  Acting quickly is the answer as otherwise it becomes difficult to manage in the long term, especially combined with winter weather conditions that may present us with other challenges.

If you have any questions about caring for your lawn, our Golf Course Manager, John Parr is the man to ask! He is happy to answer any questions, or provide some tips to help you get your lawn off to a good start this spring.


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