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Leaf Miner Facts & Identification

Protect your home or business from leaf miners by learning techniques for identification and control.

Leaf miner illustration


How do I get rid of leaf miners?

What You Can Do

Some other suggestions to help homeowners control leaf miners include:

  • Protect Your Plants - Covering plants with row covers to prevent the adults from getting access to leaves and laying eggs.

  • Clean Up Infested Leaves - Remove all leaves infested by larvae.

  • Water Your Plants - Keep plants well watered to help keep them healthy and vigorous.

  • Call for Professional Help - For leaf miners, homeowners should use insecticides only as a last resort. However, if using insecticides, always involve your PMP in the application planning and procedures.

What Orkin Does

Most leaf miner species have many predators and disease organisms that provide leaf miner population controls. Therefore, applying insecticides is not always the best way to handle a leaf miner problem, since conventional insecticides will kill predators as well as leaf miners.

It is recommended that anyone experiencing a leaf miner infestation contact a pest control professional to arrange for a consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Leaf Miners

General Information

There are a huge number of insects that are grouped as leaf miners. This common name comes from the larval stage of the insect eating and mining inside the leaves of its host plant. This group of insects includes:

  • Moths

  • Flies

  • Wasps

  • Beetles

The diversity, appearance, and habits of the leaf miner group are extremely variable.

Appearance & Identification

Identifying Damage

The easiest, most accurate way to identify leaf miners is to look for their damage to host plants. Since the larvae feed within the plant’s leaves or needles, they produce either large blotches or tunnels that wander under the surface of the leaf. Leaf miner damage is easy to see.

Identifying Larvae

Leaf miner larvae are very flat, a trait that enables them to adapt to feeding inside a leaf. Feeding larvae eat the green tissue inside the leaf and leave a meandering trail that is covered by a thin case or cover. If there are many larvae feeding on a single leaf, their tunnels may join and give the appearance of large blemishes or spots.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

Leaf miners go through complete metamorphosis: egg, larva (grub), pupa (cocoon), and adult. Adults lay their eggs on the leaf’s surface and the larvae burrow into the leaf. Leaf miner larvae usually spend their entire larval stage inside the host plant’s leaf. Some leaf miners will pupate within the leaf, but most pupate in the soil.


Because of their diversity, leaf miners have a large number of preferred host plants. Among these are vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, peas and beans, plus flowering plants such as begonias, dahlias, impatiens, marigolds and petunias.

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