Experts predict an increase in Scotland's daddy longlegs population

It's not good news for Scottish residents with a phobia of creepy crawlies (Photo: Charlesjsharp / Wikimedia Commons)
It's not good news for Scottish residents with a phobia of creepy crawlies (Photo: Charlesjsharp / Wikimedia Commons)

Scottish residents should expect to see a rise in the number of daddy longlegs (also known as crane flies) this year, after millions of larvae were discovered underground.

According to experts from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), a change in the country’s climate - specifically wetter conditions over the last 20 years - has led to an increase in the insect’s population.

A menace for farmers

Crane flies are not harmful to humans, but their larvae (known as leatherjackets) eat the roots and shoots of cereal plants, such as oats, wheat and barley, putting crops at risk. Leatherjackets also often feed on the roots of grasses, causing damage to gardens.

On land in central and south-west Scotland surveyed by SRUC, an average of one million grubs were discovered per hectare. Grassland in Ayrshire, Bute, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire was also determined to be at high risk of destruction.

Population peak in summer time

This year, the hatching of the insects is expected to peak during June and July.

Pesticides containing chlorpyrifos were once used to control the daddy longlegs population, but these have since been banned. There is currently no effective way to kill the larvae.

A treat for birds

While farmers and gardeners may not be looking forward to the summer months, farmland birds across Scotland (such as starlings, rooks and curlews) will all be able to feed themselves and their chicks well on the surplus of insects.

Those with a fear of daddy longlegs are advised to keep windows shut and lights off where possible to discourage the bugs from coming indoors.