Hope you all had a great new year weekend.

Few weeks back, I posted a topic in the forum to build a database of pictures of various pests. The main idea was to make it easier for novice gardeners to identify the pest they are having without much difficulty. With that in mind, I started looking closely at my plants every single day; all the plants. I got plenty of insects. This inspired me to start this Plant Pests Series. Every post in this series will feature a pest.  It will have the following about the pest

 

  • Identification
  • Damages
  • Control
    • Natural
    • Chemical

 

Introduction

The star of this post is Leaf Miner. Leaf miner is a name given for the larval stage of many insects that consume the leaf tissue. Most of the leaf miner are larval stages of  flies. While the adult is considered harmless, the larvae feed on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves causing the wavy squiggly lines on the leaf surfaces

Identification

In case of leaf miner, the pest can only be identified after the damage is done. The symptom of leaf miner damage is the squiggly lines made by the maggot as it bores through the leaf tissue eating it away. The damage will look like the picture below. (The damage via alphabets in the image is done by me..insects are innocent!)

 

 

Leaf miner damage

 

After several days of mining in the garden, I was able find a miner taking a walk in the park, munching along..The dark lines are its poop.

 

Leaf Miner Larva

 

This is up close with the maggot. The damage to the leaf is very clear in the picture below. The larva has eater away the leaf tissue and only the surface epidermis remains.

Leaf miner close up

Damage

Leaf miner attack can cause serious damage based on the density of the insects and the stage of the plants. Seedlings affected by leaf miner show stunted growth and might die but it is not very common. Plants with heavy foliage can handle some amount of leaf miner damage without any noticeable impact in yield. But heavy infestation can seriously reduce the yield.

Life cycle

This is how the story of a leaf miner goes..

  1. Mature larvae in soil/host plants wait for the conducing weather. As the warm weather sets in, they go into pupal stage and turn into adults.
  2. Females after mating, search for leaves in order to lay the eggs.
  3. Females have a needle like organ which aides them to pierce the leaf and lay upto 200 eggs into the leaf tissue…under the surface.
  4. From then, all it takes is couple of weeks for the eggs to start drawing lines in the leaves.
  5. After 3 weeks, they become mature and is all set to go into pupal stage..
  6. See Step 1.

Leaf miner Control

Usually leaf miners have lots of natural enemies that consume them. The outbreak of leaf miner might arise after a use of insecticides that kills its enemies too. The safest control is to simply remove the affected leaves and dispose them off.

Organic control

Neem oil is an excellent pesticide to control leaf miners. 30ml of neem oil in a litre of water along with little dish soap can be used as a spray.

Alternatively, one can use yellow sticky traps to attract these flies and destroy them.

Chemical control

Insecticides like permethrin, bifenthrin and deltamethrin can be used to control adults. Since these are contact insecticides the larvae inside the plants are still not affected.

To control the larvae systemic insecticides like Imidacloprid can be applied. Dosage of these insecticide are as per the instructions on the label.

 

That’s all in this post.

Happy gardening

GG

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19 Responses

  1. Wow,gg
    Great series, pests are the biggest headache especially when trying to go organic.And your pics are very clear.
    These squiggly lines can be seen even on aromatic plants like tulsi and mint.
    Great going
    Chitra

  2. This is great! often the seedlings thrive well into young plants only to see them getting attacked by one or other pest.This series on pest and pest control will give us the pleasure of seeing our plants blossom into matured ones with flowers and fruits because now we know how to tackle the pest problem

  3. Hi GG, very informative!

    Just one question though – the specific insecticides you have mentioned, how and where can we go looking for them in Bangalore?

    Swapna

  4. Thank you GG for beginning this most useful series on pests. Somehow, I’ve never had much trouble with leaf miners. Perhaps it’s a sign of my inexperience in the garden more than anything else. I am looking forward to the remaining posts, especially on aphids and ants.

  5. To control leaf miner another there is another organic solution.
    Sock 50 grams Garlic(with skin) in kerosene overnight, next morning remove the skin of the garlic and make a paste. Make a past of 25 grams of green chilly and 25 grams of Ginger separately . Mix all the three pastes and add 3 liters of water. Mix well and filter . Apply this mixture.

  6. Hi
    This is again a useful post for beginners like me. Thanks for the same. My problem is that by the side of our compound wall, there is a big Guava Plant and is almost always has the attack of white fungus on the leaves. It is being spread to a big hibiscus plant and also the Drumstick tree (recently put). The white flies are abundant. We can see them flying near these plants. Can u please help as to what should be sprayed to the plants so as to eradicate them. I am afraid that drumstick plant may get dried up in the absence of any such measures. Please help

    • Shobha

      Since your pest problem has become endemic, the only proper solution is to spray with an effective chemical fertilizer (though I personally do not advice anyone using them, but still in such cases it becomes a necessity). You can also try using a neem based pesticide, but you have to spray them continuously for at least a week or more.

      Regards
      GG

  7. Hi

    Havent been an active participant on your blog so far…but finally registered and hopefully will share whatever I come across.

    Just to add on to the pest series( I have taken a pic of a green ant like creature from my balcony and sending it your way), you might want to also post a blog on natural companion plants for dealing with pests..

    Example, I grow peppermint in my balcony along with other plants and occasionally squeeze a leaf or two regularly to let the smell seep in…its a natural pesticide especially for the cabbage and leafy varieties…

  8. Hi gg,
    Waiting for next post in this series. Mealybug is the star of my garden. I am looking for some organic remedy. Earlier I used to pick them with a stick and flush them. But now with increasing no. of pots and plants also growing bigger, I need a better solution.

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