I feel like 75% of the time I spend in my garden is spent battling pests. Today’s target: leafminer. This is a persistent little larvae that eats its way through the new growth of many plants – the worst victim in my garden is my young lemon tree. Apparently a pretty normal brown moth flitters over and lays its eggs on new growth in the middle of the night. What is it with pests and night-time assaults?

Cure? Well, like with most pests, prayer is your most effective weapon. That and napalm. For those with a more practical leaning, there is the disheartening solution of cutting back affected areas to remove the babies before they hatch and do more damage. These off-cuts should not be put in the compost because they’ll just go on growing in there.

Prevention? As above, plus spray with a mix heavy in veggie oil (with more water than oil and less dish soap than oil). My normal spray is what I’m using because I can’t see how a bit of bicarb will hurt and now I’m adding chilli oil rather than garlic as it’s easier to add. I sure hope moths hate chilli oil. The effect of all that oil is to keep the moths away because they apparently avoid laying eggs on oily leaves. It also kills by smothering any eggs already laid. I’ve been dousing my tree for a couple of weeks and I can’t say I see a marked improvement, but the tree was so decimated already, it could have been too late.

Here’s the poor tree with many branches and lots of leaves removed.

While dealing with this citrus tree I spotted a common inhabitant of my garden – a little green moth. I immediately became suspicious that this was the mother of the leafminers. It isn’t. This green plant hopper (Siphanta hebes) does eat sap from leaves and lay eggs but its main damage is the honeydew it secretes (like aphids) which attracts leaf mould. No leaf mould on this plant so I can’t blame them. But I do have leaf mould elsewhere so I’ve now got these monsters on my radar as well.

About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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2 Responses to Leafminer

  1. Oh I have seen those little moths around….. I thought it was only us in the tropics that battled bugs continuously. You lemon tree with the decimated leaves is looking healthy – hope those moths stay away now.

  2. We don’t have cane toads or crocodiles but pretty much everything else that torments you in the tropics probably torments me in Sydney.

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