Independent Cambridgeshire lawn care services

Pest control

It is important that the pest is identified and the appropriate course of action is taken before the pest causes extensive damage to your lawn. Products for these lawn pests are not generally available in DIY form to homeowners.

The most common lawn pests are:


Leatherjackets are the soil-dwelling larvae of flies known as crane flies or daddy-longlegs.

How to tell if leatherjackets are a problem in your garden:

  • Leatherjackets have elongate tubular bodies, up to 30mm long, and are greyish brown. They have no legs or obvious head
  • Lawns develop patches where the grasses turns yellowish brown and often dies.
  • Crows, magpies, rooks and starlings will search for leatherjackets in turf. These birds leave small round holes in the turf where they have inserted their beaks.

There several species of leatherjackets (larvae of crane flies) that feed on the roots and stem bases of lawn grasses and other plants.
The adult crane flies or daddy-longlegs mostly emerge and lay eggs in the turf or soil surface from August to October. Dry soil conditions at that time can result in many of the eggs failing to hatch.

The eggs hatch a few weeks after they have been laid and the young leatherjacket begin feeding on plant roots. In cold winters, they overwinter as small larvae and do not grow large enough to cause significant damage until mid-summer. Mild winters allow the young larvae to continue feeding and they can be large enough to cause lawn problems by late winter.

Chafer Grubs

Chafer grubs are the soil-dwelling larvae of chafer beetles. Depending on the species of chafer they either feed on decaying plant material or plant roots. Several species that feed on the roots of grasses can cause problems in lawns.

Some species of chafer grub eat the roots of grasses and other plants. Evidence of their activities can be seen in a number of ways:

  • Damage to lawns is most obvious between autumn and spring when the grubs are reaching maturity
  • Patches of the lawn may become yellowish
  • Birds, particularly of the crow family, tear up turf in order to access the grubs to feed on them
  • Damaging infestations can be highly localised and sporadic
  • Chafer grubs can be found in the soil under the loose turf. They have white bodies curved in a C shape, light brown heads, with three pairs of legs at the head end. They are bigger than the adult beetles and, if straightened out, can be up to 18mm long.
  • Other less troublesome species of chafer grubs can also occur in turf and garden borders, such as the cockchafer, summer chafer and brown chafer. These can have larvae up to 30mm (over an inch)
  • Similar root damage in lawns can also be caused by leatherjackets but churning up of the turf by other animals is less likely where leatherjackets are the problem.
Worm casts

What are worm casts?
Worm casts occur on the surface of lawns and are small heaps of muddy soil ejected from the digestive tract of some species of earthworm, such as the green worm.

Earthworms are soil-dwelling animals that have elongate cylindrical segmented bodies. Adult earthworms have a distinctive thickened band about one third of the way down the body from the head end, this is part of the reproductive system of the worm.

In general earthworm activities are beneficial in gardens, for both soil structure and in nutrient recycling. Earthworms feed on dead plant material and in doing so ingest a certain amount of soil. As a consequence, an earthworm’s excrement has a muddy consistency and appearance. Most earthworm species void waste material underground but a few species deposit casts on the surface. This can spoil the appearance of fine lawns, particularly if the casts get squashed and spread over the surface by trampling feet or lawnmowers. This can create places where mosses and lawn weeds can establish.

Worm casts can be distinguished from soil brought up to the surface by other lawn animals, such as ants, mining bees and moles, by the fine muddy nature of the excreted soil. Freshly deposited worm casts often have a coiled appearance.

The worm casts, if left untreated, can also form a good seed bed for weeds to establish in.

If the condition of your lawn is being affected by some of these common pests then contact your Cambs Total Turfcare specialist for advice on the best course of action.

What is a turf pest?
There are a number of turf pests that are common in the UK. A turf pest is a creature that lives within the turf and feeds on the grass plant. Many turf pests feed on the root of the plant which causes a rapid deterioration in the condition of the grass, causing large areas of discoloured turf and can ultimately kills the plant.

Why do you need to treat turf pests?
It is vital that all turf related pests are treated as soon as possible as the more intensive the infestation the greater the damage to the lawn. The best form of pest control is by the application of an insecticide. Ideally this should be applied as a preventative measure as pests can be difficult to treat once they have become infested in a lawn.

Benefits of pest control
Healthy grass plant
Good lawn appearance

When and how to treat turf pests?
Most turf pests are prominent during the late summer and early autumn period, although it is possible for this period to be extended due to weather conditions. There are specific periods when you can apply an insecticide, depending on the pest you have he problem with, so check with your CTT specialist as to the best course of action. Good cultural measure will also help to reduce the risk of infestation.

When can you treat turf pests?
Summer to autumn. (Preventative measures)
At the correct time in the pests life cycle

For the treatment of turf pests choose CTT
By visiting your lawn regularly, we can identify problems whilst they are still small and treat them before they cause serious damage.
Our extensive experience has shown that a lawn thrives with multiple feedings – because we’re there regularly, we can customise the treatments to the needs of your lawn each time we visit.

With 27 plus years experience in turf care we are high qualified to carry out the correct assessment of you lawn.
As a qualified professional we are licensed to provide weed and moss control, pest control and disease treatments plus much more.

Speak with us

With a pedigree of specialist experience working with top golf courses and domestic lawns within Cambridgeshire and beyond, you can be assured that we will help you get the very best out of your lawn for seasons to come.
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