The Q&A Archives: Leaf Miners

Question: My Columbines (Aquilegia), do beautifully until early summer. Just as they get in their prime of blooming, leaf miners begin to make engraving under the surface of the leaves. Very shortly the leaves began to show signs of deteriorating. At this point the plants loose their vigor and drop their leaves. What to do?

Answer: Leaf miners are the larvae of a small moth or fly that feed by removing green tissue from between the upper and lower surfaces of leaves. You can pinch, or pick and destroy, infested leaves to kill the larvae, and to reduce the population of future generations. If you can encourage beneficial predators, such as lacewings and spiders, to take up residence in your garden, the beneficials will help keep the leafminer populations down. If you have a variety of plants in your landscape so that there's something blooming at all times, you'll provide the perfect environment for a multitude of beneficials. In the meantime, just pick off the leaves of your columbines if they develop the tell-tale trails of leafminers.

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