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LEAFMINER FLIES

Steven Frank, Extension Entomologists

CAUTION: This information was developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.


LEAFMINER FLIES, several species, Agromyzidae, and other families  DIPTERA

adult flyLeafminers in the family Agromyzidae are small and usually dark flies. Some species have yellow markings. These flies are fairly similar and are more easily recognized by their host plant and the damage to the host plant than by the insect itself. Some leafminer maggots make serpentine tunnels that increase in size as the maggots grow. Other species make blotch mines or mines that are intermediate. This note does not pertain to the boxwood leafminer (see O&T note #16), a gall-forming fly belonging to a different family.

 Leafminer flies are pests of columbine, butterfly weed, chrysanthemum, cineraria, delphinium, gerbera daisy, holly, impatiens, mist flower, verbena, water lily and other ornamentals.
 The larkspur leafminer causes blotch mines in the leaves of delphinium, larkspur and aconite. Females lay eggs in the leaf and the maggots make mines as they feed between the upper and lower leaf surface. Mature maggots crawl from the mine to pupate on a leaf nearby. There are several generations per year. Infested leaves look as though they have been blighted by a disease. Heavy infestation can cause significant damage to plant appearance though on large trees they are less noticeable.

 The holly leafminers make typical serpentine mines in the leaves of hollies. They may also leave tiny pin hole scars from egg-laying. The maggots pupate at the large end of the tunnel and the adult fly emerges from a hole in the pupal skin and the upper leaf surface. Each species of holly has its own leafminer species. Deciduous holly leafminers have several generations per year, whereas the leafminers of evergreen hollies have only one generation per year. Leafminer maggots have parasites that often decimate the leafminer population.

Control

Because leafminers are plagued by parasites, it may be better to rely on parasites to suppress leafminers than to apply pesticides that might eliminate the parasites and force the amateur horticulturist into an ongoing spray program.

For the leafminer flies of evergreen hollies, timing of pesticide application is important for optimum suppression. If the leafminers appear to be getting out of hand, one strategy is to realize that the adults emerge in the spring to lay eggs in new leaves. In early April place several infested leaves in a dry plastic bag in the shade. When the small, dark flies are found in the bag, that is the perfect time to spray. Because leafminers are usually protected by the leaf surface on top and bottom, systemic pesticides (pesticides absorbed and translocated by the plant) should be given consideration for control. The foliage of susceptible plants should be observed for early signs of an infestation. When tunnels are first noticed, the following pesticides are recommended for control on annual and perennial flowers and hollies. Read and follow labelling directions and warnings carefully!

Table 1. G=greenhouse, N=nursery, L=landscape, I=interiorscape.

Active Ingredient  Trade Name  Labeled Location Signal Word IRAC MOA Group Compatible with Beneficials
abamectin
Avid 
G, N, L
Caution
6
Yes
acephate 
Orthene, *Orthenex
G, N, L
Caution
1B
No
acetamiprid
TriStar
G, N, L
Caution
4A
Yes
azadirachtin 
Azatin XL, *BioNeem & others
G, N, L, I
Caution
18B
Yes
bifenthrin
Talstar
G, N, L, I
Caution
3
No
chlorantraniliprole
Acelepryn
L
none
28
Yes
dinotefuran
Safari
G, N, L, I
Caution
4A
Yes
imidacloprid
Marathon II
G, N
Caution
4A
Yes
imidacloprid
*Merit
L, I
Caution
4A
Yes
pyriproxyfen
Distance
G, N, L, I
Caution
7C
Yes
spinosad
Conserve, *others
G, N, L
Caution
5
Yes

* Suitable for homeowner use


Recommendations of specific chemicals are based upon information on the manufacturer's label and performance in a limited number of trials. Because environmental conditions and methods of application by growers may vary widely, performance of the chemical will not always conform to the safety and pest control standards indicated by experimental data.

Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical.

For assistance, contact your county North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service agent.

Other Resources


Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
© 2001 NC Cooperative Extension Service

Originally Prepared by: James R. Baker, & S. B. Bambara, Extension Entomologists
Photo rights reserved by authors. Educational use permitted only with credit.

ENT/ort-09 May 1994 (Revised) May 1997. Lightly revised August, 2010 by S.D. Frank.
Web page last updated January, 2011 by the webperson.