When you invest a lot of time into your garden, over time you develop an ability to notice and recognize certain problems that arise. Through past experience, I can spot the signs of leaf miner, though they have only been a problem for my brassica family of plants, specifically kale. I’ve also experienced them with my chard, so I was a little surprised when I noticed that snake-like pattern on two leaves of my Shishito pepper. This is a first in my garden.
I immediately picked off the leaves and grabbed the little Nikon magnifying box that hubs gave to me and placed it ontop of the leaf. I’ve never seen the eggs that magnified before – is it ever fascinating! They aren’t quite as plump as I thought, unless the hollow/flattened eggs have already hatched. I set up my macro lens to attempt to show you what I saw through the magnifying box.
Although leaf miner damage is unsightly, some experts say that it will unlikely kill your plant; however, any type of heavy damage to a plant can cause slower growth and possibly lower yields. Leaf miners are the larvae of various beetles, flies, moths and sawflies. The adult lays their eggs on the underside of a leaf and the larvae burrow into the leaf and tunnel through it, feeding and leaving a transparent trail of where they’ve been. Areas mined by insects die and dry out. One of the easiest ways to control leaf miner is to catch it early and you can squash the eggs with your fingers. Some people recommend spraying neem oil in the spring on susceptible plants as a preventative measure. According to Colorado State University, they advise against insecticides as the application may make the problem worse by destroying natural enemies. In my experience, I typically remove infected leaves, and I will do a quick check on the underside of surrounding leaves and squash any eggs.