The Q&A Archives: Leaf problem

Question: Aloha,

thank you for making such a great site! I have tomato and eggplant plants that have white squiggly lines engraved on some of the leaves. The lines multiply and eventually the leaves wither and die. What causes the lines? How can I get rid of them? Should I cut off the leaves with the lines on them?

Also, what would you recommend as a good pesticide for ants?

Thank you!


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Answer: Glad you find the site helpful, and please be assured that we do not share email addresses. The lines you describe sound like leafminers. These are larvae of flylike insects. The adults make a slit in the surface of the leaf and lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into wormlike larvae which feed on the tissues between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf. They leave what looks like squiggly tunnels in the leaves. When they've eaten their fill, they make a little hole in the leaf, and spin a web to transport them down to the soil surface, where they pupate. They emerge as adults and start the process all over again.

To control these pests, pick off any affected leaves as soon as you see the tunnels. You can also mulch over the soil surface to keep them from entering the soil.

As for controlling ants in the garden - they may be a nuisance to gardeners, but they're really considered beneficial in the garden. They feed on other insects and they help pollinate flowers as they crawl around.

Best wishes with your garden!

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