Have you noticed white or discolored meandering lines on the leaves of your plants? Bad news: you’ve got a leaf miner problem. Leaf miners aren’t a single type of insect, rather a general name for any kind of bug that lives inside, and feeds upon leaves in its larval stage. These include several specimen of moths, flies, and beetles. What all of these leaf miners have in common is that they wreak absolute havoc on plants and are very hard to get rid of, as the leaf protects them from most pesticides, except Spinosad.
But that doesn’t mean you need to give up, and we have some very handy DIY solutions to battle these pesky leaf-eaters that require very little effort on your part.
1. Hot pepper spray
What makes chili peppers so hot is a chemical known as capsaicin, which peppers have developed as a defense mechanism against hungry insects and mammals (and still we eat them, just how crazy are we?). This makes cayenne peppers the perfect repellent against any pest who wishes to munch on your leaves.
All you need to do is boil dried cayenne flakes in a pan, allow the solution to cool and transfer to a spray bottle. Apply to the leaves and you’re good to go.
2. Neem oil
Neem oil is a perfectly natural pesticide extracted from the Indian neem plant (Azadirachta indica) that both repels and kills a lot of pests, including leaf miners. Neem oil can be easily purchased online. All you need to do is just put some in a spray bottle and apply to the leaves.
3. Using bugs to fight bugs
For nearly every living creature, there’s a bigger one that preys upon it, and leaf miners are no different. Leaf miner larvae are the target of one species of small, parasitic wasp, Diglyphus isaea, which lays its eggs in the leaf miners. The wasp’s own larvae eat the miner, putting a definite end to their leaf-munching ways. D. isaea is a tiny wasp with short antennae and a body that’s black with a green metallic sheen, and they are completely harmless to humans and often used in agriculture as a preventative measure. This wasp is most active in summer, but can also be purchased online.
4. Get rid of leaf miner temptations
While leaf miners can infest all sorts of plants, some plants are more naturally appealing to them. These include chickweed and broad-leaf plantains (Plantago major, not to be confused with the unrelated cooking banana). To minimize the chance of infestation, get rid of the weeds in your garden.