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How To Control Leaf Miners Without Harsh Chemicals

So you have gorgeous plants but just noticed that there was something on them that doesn’t belong? If you’re here to learn how to control leaf miners, these simple tips will help you get rid of these bugs that just might be all over the already infested leaves.

Leaf with leaf miners damage

How To Control Leaf Miners

Best products for leaf miner control

There are many ways to control leafminers, including removing the affected leaves, if your garden is small enough. But if you’re in a hurry, here are the top 5 products to use in controlling these pests. 

  1. Yellow sticky traps
  2. Monterey Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.T.)
  3. Floating row covers
  4. Neem oil
  5. Monterey Garden Insect Spray

Identifying leaf miners

Before you can get rid of them you’ll need to figure out how to identify leaf miners. Leaf miners look like small black flies. But the damage is made by the leaf miners larvae, not the adults. 

Leaf miner damage is easy to identify: it looks like white (or light gray) tunnels all over the leaves of your plants. And after a while, the trails turn brown and the leaves will die. While the damage looks bad, it doesn’t really affect the plants much, unless the infestation is major.

Leaf miners attack both flowers and vegetables. We had them on our tomato plants (learn more about tomato plant problems) and columbine flowers.

How to get rid of leaf miners

Using a general pesticide might help to get rid of them or slow them down but it’s important that you are doing everything that you can to get rid of any larvae that hatch as well as any mature larvae as well. 

If your garden is small, or the infestation is controlled, go ahead and remove the affected leaves. Squeeze the leaves at the ends of the tunnels, and it’ll kill the larva. Of course, if you have a large garden or the infestation is bad, you’ll need to go a different way.

Using a biological control pesticide can be a simple way to get rid of them quickly. Carbaryl is an effective spray that can help to get rid of leaf miners once hatched. 

If you’re unsure of what spray to use to get rid of leaf miners, talk to the local greenhouse in your area and see if they have any tips. This is a good plan for most things dealing with your plants, as you can talk to someone who has a lot of experience in caring for all kinds of plants. 

How to control leaf miners on tomato plants

The easiest way to control leaf miners on tomato plants is to use a floating row cover to keep them off the plants as much as possible. 

You can also use a pesticide to help eliminate the leafminer larva before it takes over your tomato plants as well. Just make sure you use an organic pesticide, like this Neem oil.

Best insecticide for leaf miners

Organic Neem Bliss 100% Pure Cold Pressed Neem Seed Oil - (16 oz) High Azadirachtin Content - OMRI Listed for Organic Use

Different plants will use different insecticides. Neem is used to spray when the larvae are actually hatching, or you can use Acephate to stop them from tunneling into your plants as well. 

If you look on the shelf at the store or shop online, you’ll notice that there are a lot of options when it comes to insecticides for dealing with leaf miners.

There are some that are better than others and it’s important to educate yourself before purchasing. Many of the insecticides are actually for certain stages in the life of a leaf miner so you’re going to want to pay attention to that detail before purchasing. 

Organic leaf miner control

If you’re not a fan of using chemicals in and around your plants, there are a few organic options that you can consider. 

Sticky traps are one way that you can hopefully get rid of leaf miners in and around your plants. Using these traps can hopefully attract these natural enemies and “trap” them to dispose of. 

Seabright HGSLTLT Sticky Thrip Leafminer Trap, Pack of 5

Another option would be to use an organic fertilizer or pesticide that coincides better with your beliefs. 

There is a reason that many people opt for a chemical option when it comes to leaf miners, and that is because it tends to work quicker in getting rid of them in the garden space or on the leaves.

This is something to think about as well because if they’re on the verge of taking over your garden, you might have to consider breaking your rule and use a non-organic pesticide to get rid of these bugs. 

FAQ about leafminers

Wanting to learn a bit more about leafminers? Here are some of the questions people had about these insects. 

What do leaf miners eat?

They are going to eat anything that they’re invading. This could be leaves, plants, a citrus tree, Aspen tree, Boxwood, or any other plant that they feel like trying to take over. 

Their meal of choice is the leaf tissue of the plant that they’re on. They happen to not be picky at all. They will bounce from one plant leaf to another as though they’re eating at a buffet. 

What plants do leafminers like?

This is the interesting thing about leaf miners. They have no problem eating any and all types of leaves. They’ll attach garden plants, trees, and other types of leafy plants that they can eat without worry. 

And once they get their fill or run out of things to eat at their current leaf, they’ll easily move on to the next surface and start eating there as well. This means that they get around and spread rather quickly, too. 

Why are leaf miners so hard to kill?

Leaf miners are hard to kill because of how they’re able to hide. Since they live and eat the inside parts of plants and leaves, this is an easy way for them to hide out when pesticides or other chemicals are being sprayed. 

They’ll also bounce around to different leaves and plants which can make it more difficult to know how and where to find them. 

If you feel as though you have an issue with leaf miners in your garden area or on your plants, there’s really no time to waste. The longer that you don’t take action, the faster they’re going to spread. 

Take charge of your garden space and do what you can to get rid of the leaf miners as soon as possible. These insects are not beneficial at all. And while a leafminer infestation is not the end of the world, it’s possible to keep them out of your garden.

Do you have any issues with leaf miners on your plants? If so, tell us some tips that you’ve used to try and get rid of them! 

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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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