Q. Mr. Horticulture Guy: Could you help me with a lawn problem. This is the first year in 20 years with this problem. I thought I had crane fly larvae in my lawn, so I got some killer for that and put it on. But I still have signs of the larvae, not only that but the crows have invaded my lawn and have just about pulled all of the lawn up leaving bare ground. Every morning there are about a dozen of them at work. What can I do to solve both problems? I have started to have dirt brought in to cover the bare spots. Thanks for any help Mrs. Gunneld Willits – University Place, WA
A. Well it sounds like your two problems are related. But one problem may be solving the other. Crows are fond of crane fly larvae so it is possible you lawn has become their diner. Crows can be messy eaters and rarely leave a tip. Crane Fly Larvae are not the only pest that can create dead brown patches in the lawn. So if you had jumped back in you time machine the first step would have been to dig up (or select a designated digger) a brown patch and look for and identify the culprit. (See http://whatcom.wsu.edu/cranefly/CFsampling.htm for a picture and information on sampling.) When the adults are present (they look like giant mosquitos or flying daddy longlegs) the larvae population is at its lowest and therefore control is least effective. So if you decision to spray was triggered by the appearance of the adult flies the treatment missed its mark. Assuming you have Crane Flies then this could explain why your treatment failed. My first suggestion is to put out an “all you can eat buffet” sign for the crows and other birds. Then once they are done feeding the fly larvae population should be decimated. Rake up loose dead sod and over seed the bare areas and lightly tamp them. If you would rather not let the birds solve this problem now would be the time to implement a chemical control. Instead of the buffet sign put up a scarecrow.