Leafminer

Class: Insects

Common Name

Leafminer 

Scientific name

A group of insects from several different orders. An important genus is the liriomyza.

Potential Hosts

Wide range of ornamental and cultural crops: cucumber, basil, mint, parsley and other fresh herbs, tomato, citrus, eggplant, bean, pea, watermelon, melon and other cucurbitaceae members, decorative flowers like chrysanthemum and roses

Who am I?

Leafminers are insects belonging to different orders: sawflies belong to hymenoptora, flies belong to the order of diptera, and moths that belong to the order lepidoptera. Together, they form a large group of plant pests that are important to cultural crops around the world. Standing out are three flies species: liriomyza trifolii, liriomyza nuidobrensis, and liriomyza bryoniae. Another famous member of the group, but perhaps less intimidating, is the citrus leafminer (phyllocnistis citrilla.)

Feeding patterns are important in helping identify the genus and the species, and it is quiet characteristic. Leafminers are year-long pests that favors warm environments.

The first signs of infestation are tiny yellow dots upon leaves upper surfaces. The spots depict where the female laid her eggs. A week after, maggots begin eating their way inside the leaf tissue thus creating those complex tunnels we recognize so easily. The tunnel provides sufficient living conditions for the larvae. In the following 10 days, the tunnel gets wider and longer. Eventually maggots pop out and fall to the ground where they'll complete their metamorphosis and turn into a fly after another 10 days. 

It's larvae stage is the one responsible for the actual damage. In a large enough population, it can cause a significant drop in yields due to sabotaging photosynthesis. Another form of damage occurs when the beauty of ornamental plants is ruined or when the look of fresh herbs is degraded, thus making it hard for growers to market them.

Control measures

Cultural

Growing inside structures: The most effective way to protect your crop from leafminers is simply (but costly) to grow it inside a greenhouse or a dense (50 Mesh) net structure.

The sooner the better: It’s easier and more cost effective to eradicate leafminers while infestation is still in its initial stage. Make it a routine to monitor the field regularly and search plants for leafminer symptoms on a weekly basis.

Conventional (chemical)

The efficiency of insecticides greatly depends on the different orders leafminers belong to. Luckily for us, different types of leafminers come from different orders that will attack different crops. Macro decisions regarding pesticides will be dictated by the crop itself. 

It will be harder to completely eliminate infestation when it comes to vegetables and field crops compared with citrus crops. Citrus leafminer, phyllocnistis citrilla, is a kind of moth that creates tunnels upon foliage and causes noticeable leaf deformation. Imidacloprid, abamectin, and acetamiprid are widely used against citrus leafminer.

When it comes to vegetables: imidacloprid and abamectin won't do much against a liriomyza member. Additional options can be cyromazine, thiocyclam hydrogen oxalate, milbemectin, and chlorantraniliprole based products.

Organic

Spinosad-based products

Biological

For citrus leafminer, use the commercially available parasitoid ageniaspis citricola. For vegetables, ornamental, and fresh herbs use parasitoid wasp diglyphus, a natural enemy of dipteran leafminers and a successful commercially available biological product against leafminers.

Caution and careful notice should be taken when using any plant protection products (insecticides, fungicides and Herbicides). It is the grower’s sole responsibility to keep track after the legal uses and permissions with respect to the laws in their country and destination markets. Always read the Instructions written on the label and in any case of contradiction work with accordance to the product label. Keep in mind that information written on the label usually apply only to local markets. Pests control products intended for organic farming are generally considered to be less effective in comparison to conventional product. And so one must keep in mind that when dealing with organic, biologic and, to some extent, small number of conventional chemical products, a complete eradication of a pest or a disease will often require several iterations of a specific treatment or combination of treatments.

Protect your crops.
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