Authors as Published

Eric Day and Alexandra Spring, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech

Figure 1 leafminer
Fig. 1: Life stages of a Leafminer



Larva: Yellow, 1/8 inch long, lives in leaves. Adult fly: Tiny, black and yellow. Several generations of this insect develop in a summer.

Common Host Plant(s)

Tomato, pepper, spinach, squash and pumpkin.


Larvae make long, slender, winding, white tunnels in leaves.

Figure 2 leafminer damage
Fig. 2: Example of Leafminer damage


Throughout United States. Damage usually is not appreciable in the northern states.


Female leafminers deposit eggs within leaf tissue. Larvae hatch from eggs in a few days and begin to feed on internal leaf tissues. Mature larvae emerge from inside the leaf and drop to the soil where they pupate in soil crevices, or in rare cases, they may pupate on the leaf. The time span from egg to adult is less and three weeks under optimum conditions, so many generations occur annually.

Cultural Control

Pick and destroy infested leaves.

Organic/Biological Control

Parasitic wasps often control leafminers.

Chemical Control

Treat with a labeled insecticide. For Cucurbits (cantaloupes, cucumber, squash, pumpkins, and watermelons): Treat when damage appears; repeat as needed.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

April 25, 2011

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