If you wake up to find your garden plants' leaves showing winding trails, your garden may have been a victim of the leaf miner fly. This dark small fly causes their damage through the following cycle: in the summer, adult females make tiny cuts on leaf surfaces and deposit their eggs. After a week, the eggs hatch into hungry larvae, which tunnel under the surface of your plants' leaves. This is how they feed off the leaves. Once two to three weeks pass, the larvae enter the pupal stage inside the leaves. Shortly after, they emerge as adults.
While leaf miner fly damage is mostly cosmetic – who would want to see discolored and streaked leaves? - they do weaken your plants. Especially vulnerable plants with too many damaged leaves may be weakened to the point of death.
How do you control this pest?
If you are running an organic garden, pinch off leaves as soon as you see signs of wiggly trails on them. Make sure to dispose of the leaves far away from the infected plant. Ideally, you should burn infected leaves.
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