Leafminers don’t cause a fatal threat to plants, but reduce the quality of your fruits and vegetables. They are maggots that feed on the surface of your plants’ leaves. Leafminers cause stunted growth and poor harvest yields from your fruit trees. With heavy infestation, you can have 6 or more maggots feeding on a leaf. The most common victims of leafminers are beans, blackberries, cabbage, lettuce, peppers, flowers, trees, and shrubs. They particularly like spinach leaves.

leafminerThe adult leafminers resemble house flies but are only 1/10 inch long. The maggots most closely resemble tiny worms and are about 1/3 inch long. At this stage in their lifecycle, they become more damaging troublemakers that create those winding white lines on your plants’ leaves. These trails are also known as “mines” and can be susceptible to invasive pathogenic fungi and bacteria.

During the winter, leafminers burrow into the soil until late April. Once they emerge from the ground, they are young adults ready to lay their eggs on leaves. Once the larvae develop into maggots, they begin to wreak havoc on your leaves creating white trails.

Organic solutions are most effective in order to prevent them from spreading. Why do you need to use organic solutions? The insects which kill leafminers and other pests are not harmed by organic methods. You will need to act immediately at signs of infestation. Here are the techniques to use:

  • If you begin to notice evidence of leafminer presence, crush any larvae habituating on leaves that haven’t begun to leave trails. You’ll need to remove heavily infested leaves altogether.
  • Young and weak plants are more susceptible to leafminers. Therefore, it is important to keep your plants healthy with organic fertilizers and efficient irrigation.
  • You can also place row covers over new plants to keep them away until plants mature.
  • Yellow sticky traps are effective at trapping the adult leafminers.
  • Organic neem oil keeps the larvae from maturing to maggots thereby preventing damage to plant leaves. Check out some more creative ways to use neem oil.
  • For adult leafminers, using organic insecticides will protect your plants from infestation.
  • For an overall protection from leafminers, we suggest Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus, and Vegetable Insect Control. It contains an effective ingredient, imidacloprid, which can be applied to the ground at the base of trees. It provides the longest period of control – 1- 3 months and should only be applied once a year. The best time to apply is spring and fall in order to protect leaf flushing. It takes imidacloprid 1 – 2 weeks to travel from the roots to leaves, so it should be applied as soon as a new flush begins to appear. In order to protect bees, avoid applying 1 month prior to and during blooming. On young trees, remove blossoms before they bloom in order to prevent imidacloprid exposure to honey bees in the nectar/pollen. Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus, and Insect Control can be used on many food crops and provide control over an extensive list of pests, including the citrus leafminer.
  • Simply mix the product in a watering can or bucket with water and pour onto the soil under the tree. The tree’s roots will absorb the insecticide and spread it throughout the plant, except to the fruit, providing complete plant protection. It is safe to harvest your citrus fruit 24 hours after treatment.

Visit your local Hydro-Scape today to get the materials you need in order to clear leafminers from your yard. Ask our knowledgeable staff for any questions you may have – we are here to help!