Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, yet last year’s wet weather is still playing its part in the countryside. Surveys coming out of Scotland have revealed that leatherjackets – the larvae of the daddy-longlegs or cranefly – have reached record levels, with up to an unbelievable 7 million grubs per hectare (2.5 acres) being found. I suspect that this will be reflected across the whole country, so we can all expect to be plagued by masses of these gangly insects this autumn.
Cranefly lay their eggs in the soil during September and particularly like the conditions to be warm and damp at this time. Once the leatherjackets hatch out, they feed voraciously on the roots of grasses and cereals, often becoming a major pest to farmers.
There is however, an upside to this predicted mass of long legged insects everywhere – they are a fantastic food source for a wide range of species. Incidentally, the swallows that nest in my small barn, all left their nest over the weekend, which is late for the first brood, but a joyous sight nevertheless! They will definitely enjoy the vast numbers of daddy long legs predicted this autumn, as they will be able to feed up well before making the long journey to Africa.