Leafminers can be a disaster for your plantation. These maggots or larval insects feed on your leaves, affecting their health. Let us get to the best ways to get rid of leaf miners quickly and easily. – Gro Indoor
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The Best Ways to Remove Leaf Miners on Plants

by 09 Apr 2023

The Best Ways to Remove Leaf Miners on Plants

Identifying leaf miner damage on your plants is not easy, but if you do, make sure it's not left untreated, or it can end up damaging your plants severely. Getting rid of leaf miners will not only make your plants look beautiful, but it will also improve their overall health. Before we dive into more details, let's go over some basic information on this pest and how you can identify it.

What are Leaf Miners?

Leaf miners are 2mm long greyish black flies whose grubs (larvae) feed under the leaves surface. They feed on your plants, deteriorating their health and infecting them with harmful diseases. These pests create tunnels in your plants, causing destruction that is highly distinctive and extremely hard to reverse.

Leaf miners are known by many other names, including monikers like spinach leaf miner, citrus leaf miner, tomato leaf miner, and more. If you want to know what kind of leaf miner you are dealing with, you need to know the kind of plant that has been infested.

Leaf miners have several types, and each one of them can have detrimental effects on your garden. Usually, these pests appear black in color. Do you know that it's not the adult version that harms the plants but their larvae? This is an interesting detail!

Also, studies have suggested that leaf miners come from the family of flies, sawflies, or moths. So how does leaf miner affect your plants? Well, for starters, the female leaf miner can leave around 200 eggs on the surface of the plant, and those eggs can mature into their larvae form in less than ten days. As we mentioned earlier, it's the larvae that cause the most destruction as they continue to feed on your plants for the next three weeks.

Leaf miners are common all over the world and can feast on all sorts of plants, including ornamental plants, edible crops, shrubs, and trees.

How to Detect Leaf Miner Infestation?

There is no question that leaf miner infestation isn't pretty, and if left unresolved, it can cause some serious issues for the plants. Let us look into some signs that can help you identify if leaf miners are infesting your plant.

For starters, the most obvious sign is the yellow line on the leaf surface. These yellow signs are a clear indication that leaf miners have successfully made their way into the plant surface. The lines commonly take the form of squiggles but can also appear as spots and blotches. Leaf miners can make your plants unsafe to be consumed. If leaf miners infest your plant, it can make the plant more susceptible to bacteria and fungus, which are deadly for the plant.

Tips on Preventing Leaf Miners

Now you have all the information on what makes leaf miners so dangerous for your plants, let's learn how to get rid of them and prevent them.

Floating Row Covers

Row covers are extremely useful in keeping leaf miners away from the plants and preventing other pests as well. The theory behind it is very simple how can your plants be affected if the pests cannot reach them?

Cover your plants with row covers, and the leaf miners will not be able to cause any damage. Just ensure the covers are removed for pollination to take place, as you need pollinators like bees to reach your plants.

Crop Rotation

This is an easy way to prevent leaf miners from infesting your plants all you need to do is keep rotating the plants, at least in the growing seasons. These pests hide inside the plant's soil when it's winter and start acting once the weather warms. Try rotating your crop every season; we highly recommend not planting the same species at the same spot. This can dramatically reduce the pest's temptation to feed on plants.

This practice is also beneficial in general as it prevents your plants from being infested by leaf miners and other diseases and pests.

Checking for Transplants

What if you are transplanting new plants into your garden? You have to inspect thoroughly, check and pay close attention to your plant leaves. We highly recommend removing the leaves if you see any leaf miners.

You can also visit the nursery and refund the plant, which is a more cost-effective option. You must develop a habit of checking your plants properly before buying them. If you don't have any prior experience, ask an experienced grower to help you out. You can contact our experts and us at GroIndoor.com!

One effective way to prevent your plants from any kind of infestation is quarantining the new ones for a while maybe a week or two.

Growing Trap Crop

Trap crops confuse your plants by being more attractive and preventing the actual plant from being infested. These trap crops are planted nearby the actual plant. Some good choices for trap crops are velvetleaf, columbine, and lambs quarter.

Using Sticky Traps

Sticky insect traps are hung near plants that are either vulnerable to or currently experiencing damage from leaf miners. Like all the previous options, these are also used to prevent leaf miners. One thing you need to know is that sticky traps are not very effective against larvae but can keep adult leaf miners such as flies and moths away from your plants, preventing them from laying eggs in the first place. At the point of contact with the sticky trap, the leaf miner will die off immediately.

We highly recommend going for pheromone traps as they use their scent to attract these pests. However, these traps are only effective against citrus leaf miners.

Monitoring Plant Changes

You need to know not all leaf miners are the same; some are very selective and feed on particular plants. Leaves with juicy tissues are more susceptible to leaf miners as they prefer sweet and soft plant tissues.

You need to make sure the plants are healthy and have strong growth, as they are less likely to be infested by leaf miners. You need to provide your plants with essential nutrients on a regular basis. Ensure your plants have the best of everything in terms of environment, lighting, nutrients, etc.

Getting Rid of Leaf Miners

Despite all your efforts to prevent leaf miners, unfortunately, the struggle might not be over yet, especially if you prefer to grow outdoors. Growing outdoors removes all barriers for leaf miners from infesting your plants, and they can, therefore, easily locate and spoil your garden.

Worried? Don't be. We at GroIndoor.com have some helpful tips to ensure you get rid of leaf miners easily. These methods range from quick fixes that are useful against smaller infestations to more invasive methods, which are extremely useful for larger infestations.

Using Insects

This is by far the most eco-friendly and easiest way to get rid of leaf miners. Many types of insects feed on leaf miners, like diglyphus isaea, which is a predatory wasp. Introducing them to your garden can add an extra layer of protection for your plants. This wasp can find larvae even if they are deep within the leaf. They lay their eggs inside the leaf miner larvae, and when the eggs hatch, the larvae are consumed from within.

These insects can easily be purchased from online nurseries, and once you do, they can easily be released in the garden. If purchasing is not what you want, you can always use plants like dill and yarrow to attract these insects.

Using Diatomaceous Earth

Some growers use Diatomaceous Earth to prevent leaf miners. However, this method has its limitations. Diatomaceous earth is a powder-like substance, which is not a 100% effective method of preventing leaf miners as it does not necessarily come in direct contact with larvae.

The best way to use this powder is to spread it all over the plant soil. Further, it does not affect your plant's health as the powder is safe to use and non-toxic. It is also easy to dust off from the leaf surface.

Pinching Leaf Miners off

Sometimes you can easily identify the telltale trails on the plants, and one of the easiest methods is pinching them off to get rid of them. Start pinching the trail using the thumb and forefinger. If there are any leaf miners inside the leaf, this will instantly kill them.

If you see any infestation signs on the leaves, it's better to remove the leaf entirely. Don't compost those plants near the garden; make sure of that. This is only a quick fix and does not guarantee that no larvae or eggs will occur in the future. When you pluck the leaves off, we recommend putting all of them in the garbage can instead of composting.

Using Neem Oil

Another natural way of getting rid of leaf miners is using neem oil. It is a highly effective method and causes no harm to the plant itself because of its organic nature. Neem oil reduces the number of larvae in a plant, thereby decreasing the number of eggs that can be laid.

The results of this method aren't immediate but can make a big difference. Therefore, patience is key here.

Using Pesticides

If the infestation in your plants has turned severe, the best way to solve the issue is by using pesticides. Remember, this method is only for severe outbreaks that are not solved through other means.

We recommend looking for products that contain Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) or Spinosad. Between the two, BT is more effective in fighting against leaf miners. BT can easily be applied to your leaves and will cause no harm to the plant. Here are some highly recommended choices from our experts at GroIndoor.com:

Final Thoughts

If your plants are infested with leaf miners, don't worry, there are plenty of ways to overcome this crisis. Nobody wants to eat a green salad with telltale tunnels on its leaves!

Now you know everything about how to get rid of leaf miners from your plants fast and easily. Following these tips, we can guarantee your plants will always remain protected from leaf miners all year long.

Sep 4th 2022
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