Leaf miners are insect types that lay eggs between the spongy upper and lower surfaces of leaves. The insect can damage crops and garden plants, which can cause green thumbs to throw a fit.
Controlling leaf miners is not easy, considering that they are basically insecticide-proof. Different varieties of these leaf lovers may pounce on various plants, with over 200 species of leaf miners. They are often named based on their choice of plant.
Wiggly lines on a leaf are often a sign of leaf miner infestation.
Depending on the locality and climactic conditions, there can be up to four generations of leaf miners in a season. Normally, the first generation of leaf miners causes the most damage. As soon as the leaves start to unfold, usually in spring, the adult insects begin to lay eggs. During this period, leaf tissue is soft and appropriate for larval development.
Leaf mining insects are prolific and spend most of their adult lives laying eggs on the underside of leaves. The larvae would basically spend their existence under the leaf surface gorging themselves. The term leaf miner is coined because of the insects’ way of tunneling through plants.
Terminating Leaf Miners
Leaf miners are common among citrus trees, but they do lust for different kinds of trees and garden crops. The difficulty of eliminating leaf miners is beyond any degree in life. They are almost impossible to get rid of with just the use of insecticides. Here are four possible scenarios in eliminating leaf miners, you would probably need the help of experts to understand some of these common chemical terms:
- If the plant is young, use a large amount of pesticide that contains Imidacloprid and saturate the soil surrounding the affected area. If the plant already has false teeth, this type of approach may just go to waste.
- Try using a pesticide containing Dimethoate for the older plant. Make sure you follow the package directions. If in case the affected tree is a Meyer lemon tree (what are the chances?), try looking for a pesticide that contains Maldison, and just remember to follow instructions once again.
- Partner plants with some botanical creatures, since companion planting can actually help you control leaf miners. Lambsquarter, Velvetleaf, and Columbine are companion plants that can protect your existing ones from leaf miners. Leaf miners, for some reason, are drawn to the newbies instead of the oldies.
- Pheromones are not only effective in seducing the opposite sex; they are excellent seducers of leaf miners. Use traps that are baited with pheromones and are specifically created for leaf miner control. When the insects decide to drop their babies, they’ll probably go nuts over the traps. Once again, do not forget to follow the directions on the package to better understand the science of monitoring the traps and reloading the pheromones.
Controlling the Population of Leaf Miners
In managing leaf miners, and other pestiferous insects for that matter, the key aspect is to detect the infestation before it becomes too hot too handle. There are two basic methods of detecting leaf miner infestation: plant inspection and yellow sticky traps. By observing the plants carefully and regularly, leaf miner infestation can be averted before it takes serious form. On the other hand, using sticky traps placed slightly above crop height may invite leaf miners and allow you to detect the infestation.
The best recommended control for leaf miners is BioNeem. BioNeem is a multipurpose concentrated insecticide and repellent that is used for flowers, fruits, vegetables, and ornaments in and around the house. BioNeem can kill or repel aphids, caterpillars, beetles, thrips, whiteflies, and leaf miners, among others. The effectiveness of it can be based on several modes of action:
- The insecticide can disrupt the hormonal balance of insects, which results to death even before they move on to the next life cycle.
- It provides the insects a sense of suppression regarding their desire to eat. The chemical product also repels leaf miners from the fogged area.
These modes of action improve the quality of pest control, while also sparing the precious lives of beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and beneficial nematodes.
Not all predatory insects feed on all varieties of leaf miners. Leaf miners are not a species, but a biological category. Ladybugs are known to attack the widest array of leaf miners.
Methods of Suppression
You can halt, or at least control, leaf miner infestations naturally.
- Control weeds to prevent breeding grounds from forming.
- Follow crop rotation guidelines.
- Avoid placing indoor plants–that are susceptible to leaf miners–close to doors, windows, or vents. Leaf miners are rude creatures that take what they are not offered.
- Discard and destroy infected plants to stop the infestation in its tracks.
Tips and Warnings
- Do not prune your trees more than once a year. A hardened leaf is more difficult for pesky leaf miners to penetrate.
- Do not remove damaged leaves immediately, especially for certain plants like the citrus tree. Affected areas of the tree cannot provide food, but the undamaged parts can still contribute to its survival.
- Remember: age is a factor. If your tree is more than four years old, leaf miners would not be able to affect its health or the fruit that it produces.
- By planting crops, as trap devices, near the plants to be protected, leaf miner infection can be diminished or averted.
Insects that are categorized as leaf miners can cause havoc to your masterpiece of a garden. Always be on the lookout for insatiable leaf eaters. The tips stated above can help you control leaf miners and prevent them from ruining your garden again. Remember: prevention is better than cure.
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