Leaf miners are a common pest found on cold crops such as chard and beets. The Leaf Miner larvae hatch and tunnel into the leaves, which causes them to wither. To manage this problem, gardeners can squish the larvae or remove the damaged leaves. If the damage is minor, the leaves can still be used, however, the tissue around the damaged area should be cut off to prevent further damage. This pest is manageable if the infestation is monitored and kept under control.
Here's how to Detect if Leaf Miner has Attacked
What are these white dots on my plant?
You have the life cycle of Leaf Miner beginning! Leaf Miners are the larvae of a fly that live between the two cell walls of our plants. They start as those white spots, which are the eggs of the leaf miner. They will soon hatch and dig their way into the leaf itself to begin feeding. Unfortunately, Leaf Miner lay their eggs on the backs of the leaf, making it slightly more difficult to notice and eradicate. Smart little guys!
You are in a great position to eradicate leaf miners when you catch them as white, little eggs. Simply take your thumbnail and swipe those eggs away carefully, and they should pop right off. This will end the life cycle and possible damage right then and there. It takes about 3-4 days for the eggs to completely attach to the leaf and hatch, and sometimes if you catch it too late the scraping technique won’t work. If you run your nail over the eggs and they won’t budge, that means that hatching has begun and you will see their damage within a day or so.
These leaf miners will eat the inside of the plant’s leaves creating tunnel-like track marks on the leaves of your plant and can be a nuisance in the garden because typically once the damage has occurred, it lessens the number of leaves for our harvest.
Do not be alarmed if you did not catch the Leaf Miner eggs in time! We can eradicate the issue, and pests are natural in the garden. We are just becoming part of the ecosystem! Whether you catch the leaf miner at the egg stage or feeding stage, we can take of it. Typically Leaf Miner goes unnoticed until their tunneling occurs.
Now to Eradicate the Pest.
After you scrape the eggs away, wait a couple of days to see if feeding begins, which means there were a few Leaf Miner eggs you didn’t catch. That’s when more eradication will come into play. If you see tunneling begin, try and look at the track marks and find the larvae itself within its feeding location. If you spot the Leaf Miner larvae itself, give it a slight squish to kill the bug right then and there, this makes it so the leaf can continue to grow without the bug, which is great when your seedlings are young and harvesting is the goal after all. If you can, it’s best to wait another couple of days to see if the damage continues before spraying. If the leaf Miner continues eating or the infestation is large, it’s time to go in with an organic pesticide.
It can be difficult for sprays to penetrate the leaf to take care of the Leaf Miner pest, considering leaf miners live within the cell walls of plants. But there is one spray that seems to do the trick! That would be Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. This spray is made out of an organic soil bacterium called Spinosad. This kills a variety of things in the garden, and leaf miners are one of them. Spray a decent coat all over your leaves, front and back. But something to keep in mind when using Spinosad or Captain Jacks Dead Bug brew is the harm it could place on bees. When the product is wet, the bees can be killed by the product, so it’s best to spray in the evening or spray and cover with a shade cloth until the product dries. But anytime you use a spray on your plants, it should be when the sun is not directly hitting the leaves. When the product is wet and the sunshine hits it, it can burn the leaves. So the evening is a great time to spray in general. You’ll want to be careful not to get this into your water runoff due to the harm it can place on marine life. That means after use, simply rinse your hands over a bush or grass, then wash your hands with soap and water. Please do not use sprays too often! It is best to try and eradicate by hand as much as possible and use sprays as little as possible to keep the beneficial bacteria and bugs within the plant alive.
A good rule of thumb for Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew would be to use it once every two weeks in the spring and summer season, and only use it if you absolutely need to.
I feel I should mention that sometimes the best way to rid yourself of the Leaf Miner pest is to simply take off the damaged leaves and stomp on them to end the lifecycle right then and there. I would recommend this if the issue has become too large to handle and if your plant is big enough or has enough leaves to snip and trim. But this pest can be very disappointing because it lessens the number of leaves for us to harvest and enjoy. Please do not be afraid to take off the leaves with a leaf miner and cut out the portion with the larvae and feeding tracks since the rest of that leaf is edible. Think of all the hard work that went into growing that plant! So please enjoy as much of it as you can because we can live in harmony with our ecosystem.
Healthy Soil is the best way to Ward off Leaf Miner and other Pests.
Try some of our soil and soil amendments to ensure you have health soil! You'll be amazed at how good your plants will be at deterring pests like the Leaf Miner. With healthy soil, it is so much easier to grow healthy leafy greens, herbs, and veggies. Everything is easier because your plant health is in tip top shape.