The first time I saw Leaf Miners had caused what appeared to be extensive damage to my plant leaves, I had no idea what to think. It looked like someone had painted on them with a marker with all those white markings.
It was weird. It never dawned on me that it could be an insect doing that to my edible plants.
Then I found out there were many insects that exhibited the same behavior. There are even citrus pests called citrus leaf miners. Leaf miners on citrus are common. They’re drawn to citrus fruit trees like orange trees and other citrus plants.
I found out when my neighbor’s saw the same damage on her lemon bushes. Luckily they are treated the same way, making it easy because you don’t have to identify the leaf miner. You have to treat for it.
Do your leaves look like someone has drawn squiggly lines on them? If your answer is “yes,” then you’re most like dealing with leaf miners.
Today, we’ll be talking about how you can identify this common pest and control them in the garden. Let’s get started!
Identifying Leaf Miners
To answer the question of what are leaf miners, the term leaf miner refers to the larva of several species of insects that feed on the leaves of affected plants, such as serpentine mites.
These leafminer larvae feed inside the leaf tissue and leaf margin and selectively eat the upper and lower edge of the leaf as well as the leaf surface of those that have the least amount of cellulose.
Leaf miners become active in early spring, laying eggs soon after flushes of new growth, young leaves, first true leaves, and growth of young citrus trees and other trees start.
Adult citrus leaf miners and other vegetable leafminers lay their eggs inside the leaves. Once these eggs hatch, they begin to tunnel around inside the leaves and lower leaf surfaces, creating the characteristic of wavy lines or silvery trails that you’ll see on leaves affected by this pest.
This will cause serious damage to your plants and leafy greens. Most of these garden pests have hind wings. That’s why it’s good to know how do you get rid of leaf miners.
Many insect species have leaf-mining larvae such as:
- adult moths (Lepidoptera) or (phyllocnistis citrella stainton)
- sawflies (Symphyta, the mother clade of wasps)
- flies (Diptera)
- Some beetles can also exhibit this behavior.
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Types Of Leaf Miners
- Serpentine mites
- Citrus peelminer they can be found in southern California
- Maggots of true flies
- Soft Fly Larvae
- Beetle Grubs
- Weevil Grubs
- Spinach Leafminers, also called Pegomya Hyoscyami
- Boxwood Leafminer
Leaf Miner Damage
Leaf miners can feed on a wide variety of crops, including plants in the spinach family, such as Swiss chard and beets. They can also feed on:
In some severe cases, they may also chew their way through shrubs and trees, including citrus fruit, as I mentioned above. That’s why it’s important to know the tips for leaf miners how to get rid of them.
As leaf miners bore through the leaves of plants, they leave a “mine” that appears as yellow squiggly lines. Sometimes, they won’t zigzag their way through the infested leaves and plants, however. Instead, they will leave behind brown blotches.
Most of the time, the leafminer damage caused by leaf miners is purely cosmetic. The unsightly trails they leave behind make old and young plants look unattractive.
However, in repeated or severe infestations, the stress they cause to the plant can weaken them and cause them to die. This is why you need to know how to get rid of leaf miners naturally.
Controlling Leaf Miners
Leaf miners can be tricky to control and manage since they live inside the leaves of your plants. Most insecticides aren’t effective since the pests are protected by the outer layer of the leaves.
Meanwhile, systemic insecticides that can kill leaf miners tend to be absorbed by plants and are not ideal for edible crops. That’s why it is best to know all the natural tips for getting rid of leaf miners.
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There are, however, certain things you can do if you see signs of leaf miners in your garden. This includes:
- One answer to how to kill leaf miners is to squeeze the leaves to kill larvae of these species. As soon as you see wavy lines on the leaves of your healthy plants, give the leaves a squeeze to get rid of the larvae.
- If you were looking for how to prevent leaf miners, start by removing the infected plant’s leaves and discarding them. Doing this will prevent any further damage that can be inflicted on the rest of the plant.
- Use trap crops to keep leaf miners away from your valuable plants. Use plants like columbine, lambs, quarter, and velvet leaf to attract leaf miners.
- Use natural enemies and beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps to help in controlling leaf miner populations in your home gardens. Adult wasps can get into the tunnels created by leaf miners and kill them. Meanwhile, their pupae can feed on dead leaf miner larvae. This is a great leaf miners treatment.
- If you’ve ever wondered does neem oil kill leaf miners, the answer is yes. All you have to do is use neem oil as directed on the bottle. This organic insecticide affects the leaf miner’s natural life cycle and will reduce the number of larvae that become adults and thus the number of eggs that the adults will lay. And that’s how to use neem oil for leaf miners.
- When looking for how to treat leaf miners on tomato plants and other crops, try using pheromone traps such as yellow sticky traps, blue sticky traps, or sticky cards to attract leaf miners. These are a great tool since adult leaf miners can get stuck in the adhesive, leaving them unable to mate or lay eggs.
What is the insect that is causing you the most aggravation in your garden?
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