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Irregular or serpentine pale grey lines appear on both sides of the leaf blades as the larvae feed. These burrows are usually limited by the leaf veins and contain black fecal material visible as slim trace inside the tunnels.
Leafminers are a family of flies with several thousand species worldwide. In spring, they lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. The larvae feed between the upper and the lower surface. They produce large white meandering tunnels with a trail of black fecal material (frass) left behind as they feed. The flies hibernate in the soil, in plant debris or on fallen leaves near the host. Leaf miners are attracted to the color yellow.
Minor infestation just leads to aesthetic blemishes and does not affect productivity. To avoid major damage, spray neem oil extracts. Neem oil extracts serve as a feeding deterrent to adults and reduce egg laying. Parasitic wasps that kill leaf-miner larvae in the mine are commercially available. Ladybirds are predators of the leaf miner fly. Spinosad should be considered first as it has a low impact on natural enemies and pollinators.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. To kill leaf miners it is necessary to spray at the right time. Insecticides prevent adults from laying eggs, but they do not kill the larvae. Broad-spectrum insecticides such as abamectin, bifenthrin, carbaryl, permethrin, and methoxyfenozidecan kill a variety of insects, among them leaf miner flies and their natural enemies.
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