This summer, be on watch for these two pests in along the Eastern seaboard and into New England.
Leaf miners are any of a class of insect larva that live in leaves and feed on the tissue of the plant. They can belong to any number of insect orders, including those of moths, flies and some beetles. Leaves affected by leaf miners tend to dry out and die when fed upon excessively.
Leaf miners are noticeable mostly because of the serpentine trail or blotches of damage they wend across the surface of leaves. To distinguish leaf miner damage from that caused by fungi, the affected area can be prized apart and inspected for a hollow cavity produced by the insect’s feeding habits. An expert on leaf miners can often identify the species based on the characteristic pattern of their feeding habits.
Most leaf miner damage is strictly cosmetic, so unless they’re stunting growth or ruining the appearance of ornamental plants, there’s no need to drive yourself crazy trying to oust the pest. One method for preventing infestations is to plant companion crops, like columbine, that will draw leaf miners away from other plants. Insecticides containing Spinosad can be used to kill extant leaf miner populations, though it may be necessary to treat the affected plants several times during a single season.
Mosquitos are one of the most common insect nuisances in the world, and while they don’t cause much damage in your garden, you certainly don’t want them breeding there to feed on you while you’re out getting your hands dirty. In addition to the pain and itchiness caused by mosquito bits, the little buggers may also carry disease, including the seasonal epidemic West Nile Virus.
To control mosquito populations, examine your landscape for areas that trap moisture or collect water in stagnant pools. Leveling off depressions in your lawn can help deprive mosquitos of breeding pools; cleaning up piles of trimmings, leaves and grass clippings further diminishes their territory. Even then, though, some regions (particularly in the South) are simply prone to mosquitos. If you continue to see mosquitos buzzing around your home or garden, an area spray like Cutter Backyard Bug Control can be used to diminish mosquito populations for up to 8 weeks. For an additional layer of protection, use a personal repellant like Cutter or Repel, especially if you’re outdoors at dusk or dawn when mosquitos are most active.
Leaf miner photo: N3v3rl4nd/Public domain
Mosquito image: Nacho Torres 2012/Flickr