Daddy-long-legs: How to get rid of them

They’re taking over our homes and gardens, but are they a danger or are these bugs just a pest – and what can we do to foil them? We found out.

Confession time: daddy-long-legs creep me out. Never mind the cute name, up close they look like sci-fi alien drones sent to spy on our planet.

What are daddy-long-legs?

They’re not flying spiders and confusingly, they’re not ‘daddy-long-legs spiders’ either (aka harvestmen and cellar spiders), they’re actually called crane flies, from the tipulidae insect family, and they pop out of larvae called leatherjackets. Still with me?

Most of the ones we’ll see are Tipula paludosa, which are about an inch in length, but there’s also an increase in numbers of the longer, Tipula maxima species, which can be up to four inches.

Why are there so many of them?

The insects - also knows as crane flies - provide food for wildlife, such as birds and spiders, just before the winter comes, insect charity Buglife said.

How can you get rid of daddy-long-legs?

While the grubs can cause some damage by chomping on plants, the adults don’t really eat, but mate, lay eggs and then die after a few days.

They often prove to be a pest for gardeners as they damage lawns, particularly in spring, and can lead to other wildlife such as birds, badgers and foxes digging into the turf in search of a meal.

The best thing to do, if you find one, is catch it gently, release it outside and wish it well for the rest of its very short life.

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