The Q&A Archives: Trail Marks on leaves of plants

Question: I have been treating for various types of pests on my dahlias, zinnias and some plants in my vegetable garden. Periodically, there are what appear to be trail marks on the leaves and I am trying to figure out what causes it and how to get rid of it. Thank you.

Answer: What you describe sounds like leaf miner damage. Leafminers are usually the larvae of flies, moths, or beetles that feed or mine tunnels between the upper and lower leaf surfaces. The female lays an egg by piercing the surface of the leaf and when the egg hatches the larvae feeds on the tissues. When it has grown large enough it exits the leaf and spins a thin web to transport it down to the soil where it pupates and then turns into an adult. The damage to the leaves is unsightly but won't harm your plants. Leafminers are difficult to control because they are safely protected within the leaves where no pesticides can reach them. You can control the next generation by gently cultivating the soil beneath your plants to expose the pupa to sunlight, birds and other insects that might feed on them. Best wishes with your garden.

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