How to Control Leafminers
When you notice the leaves of your vegetables have serpentine mines that wind snake-like across the leaves that’s leafminer. You are facing one of the common problems farmers and gardeners around the world face.
Leafminers are larvae of various insects including beetles, flies, and moths. These larvae are very small with a size of 1/5 of an inch or 1/8 of an inch in length. They live and feed on plant leaves. Adults lay their eggs in clusters just under the surface of the leaf epidermis. For 1 to 3 weeks larvae mine leaves, then when they mature, they drop to the ground.
Although the larvae damage has little or no effect on plant growth and is not fatal to the larger plants, the case is different with regard to plants in the seedling stage of growth. If you will not prevent them early, the extreme population of leafminers may slow your plant growth. If they infested your edible plants, this will result in financial loss because the plant is no longer marketable.
Preventing leafminers requires a lot of observation because even if you spray them with insecticide they will not be killed because they are inside the leaves. You have to time this perfectly so that the pesticide kills the larva and adult flies. If you spray too early, the insecticide will not injure the eggs or the adult flies.
How to Prevent Leafminer?
There are several ways to prevent leafminers but it requires patience and keen observation. Here are some of the solutions in preventing leafminers.
- Check your seedlings for leafminers’ damage before transplanting them in your vegetable garden.
- Cover Plants. Use fine smooth white cloth to keep adults from laying eggs on leaves especially small seedlings.
- Immediately pick infested leaves and destroy it, do not leave it near the plants. Once you have spotted the patterns of a tunnel, you can crush the larvae inside by applying pressure to the tunnel between two fingers. If caught early,this can solve an infestation before it even spreads.
- Plant trap crops. Their population can be prevented by planting plant trap crops near the plants most targeted by leafminer.
- Use Neem oil. Spray with neem oil to disrupt the life cycle of the insects to the point they do not feed, fly or mate. Spray daily for a week.
- Encourage parasitic wasps in your plant. The wasps lay their eggs inside the leafminers. When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings will feed on them, thereby killing them. In some countries, parasitic wasps is produced and sold to farmers to kill these leafminers.
- Till your soil after harvesting your vegetable especially if there has been leafminer infestation. This will reduce leafminers infestation.
- Look for egg clusters on plants regularly and destroy them as soon as they are visible.
- Use sticky traps to catch egg laying adults.
- Keep your plants healthy. Remove unhealthy plants. Generally speaking, unhealthy plants are susceptible to leafminers, other pests and various diseases.
- As mentioned earlier, you need to time this if you will use insecticide, organic or non-organic. To do this, you’ll need to do a little testing. Find some infested leaves, keep inside a plastic bag and seal it properly If you see larva growing, you can start spraying your plants. Begin immediately, and spray your plants everyday for 7 days. This is the most effective use of insecticide for leafminer.
How to Control Beetles
Pests can be rodents, birds, insects, and animals very harmful to the farmers. Pests not only adversely affect production but also cause damage to stored produce. Crops infested with pests are toxic to human health. Beetle is one of the common pests that not only damage plants but also affect production badly, they even destroy stored produce. Commonly categorized as insect pests, beets are bad for the harvest and storage of crops. They feed on the products making the produce unfit for human consumption. They feed on leaves and stems, they feed on flowers and fruits, they feed on the harvest. They even leave harmful microbes inside the seed thus hampering the seed germination.
Included in the order Coleoptera, beetles are a group of various insects that are very bad for the farming community. Even though they favor a warm climate, beetles are found to be surviving in a colder climate as well. They attack the farm as well as storehouses.
Butterflies and moths, included in the order Lepidoptera, damage crops only when they are mature, however, beetles can be bad during the larvae stage as well as the adult stage. Larva and adults both feed on leaves, flowers, fruits.
Types of Beetle pests
There are many species of beetle that cause damage to plants and stored products but are classified into four major groups.
Chrysomelidae commonly called leaf beetles can be found anywhere, however, tropical climate favors these pests. They are identifiable with short legs in an oval-shaped body. Their antenna is half their body size, about 12 mm.
Cerambycidae commonly called longhorn beetles have antennae longer than their body.
Scarabaeidae commonly called scarab beetles are usually brown or black. These are abundant in tropical climates. They are bright with spots on their back. These beetles have wings and 6 legs.
Carabidae commonly called ground beetles are usually live inside the soil/ They have long legs and wings, and are brown or black in color.
Management and pest control of Beetles
Pests like beetle are a fast breeders. Therefore, until you completely wipe them out, they will continue to breed and damage your plants. You need to control weeds to control beetle because beetle hides in weeds. You can also do crop rotation, planting a new crop in each season, to control beetles and other pests. Perhaps, the easiest solution might be using chemical pesticides, however, if you are growing food, using chemicals can be toxic for your health. When applying chemical pesticides, always follow the guidelines mentioned on the leaflet of the pesticide.