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Leatherjacket Mitigation Strategies for Beef & Sheep

CAFRE

Leatherjacket Mitigation Strategies for Beef & Sheep

What is the project about?

Leatherjackets, the larvae of crane flies, can cause significant destruction to grassland yields in Northern Ireland, thus having an economic impact on the profitability of dairy, beef and sheep production systems. Prior to 2016, leatherjacket populations in NI were controlled by the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, however, the withdrawal of such products has resulted in an increased requirement for additional mitigation strategies in order to control populations.

This project aims to develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies to control leatherjackets to below economically damaging levels on grassland farms.  The feasibility of linking these IPM strategies to a weather-based prediction service will also be considered. 

How will the project be implemented?

The Operational Group, led by AgriSearch, consists of research experts and grassland farmers based in Fermanagh, where leatherjackets are known to be more prevalent.  Each of the farms in the project will be surveyed to determine the number and species of leatherjacket present within the study areas and the impact that they have. The extent of the leatherjacket impact in Fermanagh and across Northern Ireland will also be explored.

The group will consider how leatherjacket populations respond to sward age, grazing strategies, soil conditions, weather conditions, biotic factors etc. and investigate how various agronomical activities impact on these populations. Integrated Pest management strategies will then be developed that could be replicated in grassland ruminant farms across Northern Ireland. 

The results of the study will also be used to assess the feasibility of a leatherjacket prediction service by validating an existing weather based prediction model to predict larva numbers.  If successful the predictions will allow pre-emptive mitigations strategies to be implemented on farms in the Summer/Autumn to prevent infestation problems in the Spring.

How can I find out more?

To find out more information on this project visit the Operational Group’s web page or contact Jillian.hoy@agrisearch.org