How To Identify Tomato Leaf Miner And Control / Prevent Them On Tomato Plants?

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This is a complete guide to assist you in identifying and controlling leaf miners from attacking tomato plants.

Continue reading to learn more about managing these pests!

What Is Tomato Leaf Miner, And How Does It Harm Tomato Plants?

The leaf miner is a larva of moths, sawflies, beetles, or flies that burrows inside the leaf. They vary in color depending on the species.

Leaf miners eat into the foliage of the tomato plants and leave visible white tracks.

How To Confirm That Leaf Miner Is Troubling Your Tomato Plants?

Inspect the tomato leaves for any signs of damage. You may observe characteristic serpentine mines i.e, slender, white, winding trails. The multiple larvae mining causes blotches in the leaves.

Also, the damaged leaves may drop prematurely. Heavy infestation of tomato leaf miners may reduce yield and expose the fruit to sunburn.

To confirm the leaf miners, look for insect poops in the affected area.

You may go through this video for more information:

Natural Ways To Control Leaf Miner On Tomato Plants

Leaf miners are challenging to eliminate as they are protected within leaves. But, you may control them using natural ways, including neem oil and white oil solution. Beneficial bugs can be released to deter leaf miners.

Method 1- Apply Neem Oil

Neem oil is an insecticidal oil that will affect the natural life cycle, mating, and development of leaf miners and reduce their number. But it may take a while to work.

  • Prepare neem oil solution– Add a tablespoon of neem oil to a gallon of water. Mix them thoroughly and transfer them to a spray bottle. You may add a few drops of dishwashing liquid as an emulsifier.
  • Spray the solution– Spray on the affected foliage. Avoid spraying in bright sunlight as it may burn the leaves. Repeat application as required.

You may go through this helpful video:

Method 2- Release Beneficial Bugs

Beneficial bugs, including parasitic wasps, can be used to control leaf miners by killing them. An adult parasite may lay about 200-300 eggs during its life.

  • Purchase beneficial bugs– You may purchase suitable parasitic wasps, called Diglyphus isaea from nurseries.
  • Release near-infested plants– You may release these beneficial bugs near the infested plants by lifting the cap. They lay their eggs that grow and consume leaf miners. Avoid using pesticides while using these beneficial bugs as it may kill them.

If you are looking to control leaf miners with beneficial bugs, check this video:

Method 3- Use White Oil Solution

The vegetable oil spray can be used to suffocate the leaf miners and prevent them from mating. It will help in reducing their number.

  • Prepare vegetable oil solution– Mix two teaspoons of vegetable oil and one teaspoon of dish soap in 500ml of water. Shake well until it becomes cloudy white color and transfer to a sprayer bottle.
  • Spray on the infested leaves– Shake well and spray the vegetable oil solution on the infested leaves. Use them in the evening or early morning to prevent the burning of leaves.

Here is a useful video on using white oil solution to kill leaf miners:

Physical Ways To Control Leaf Miner On Tomato Plants

The effective method to control leaf miners on tomato plants is to squeeze the infested leaf that harbors the larvae. Also, you may place sticky traps to deter them from attacking tomato plants.

Method 1- Pinch The Trails

The most effective non-toxic way to control leaf miners is by squeezing the larvae and killing them. It may be time-consuming to squeeze the leaves but it works.

  • Observe the leaves– Inspect the tomato leaves for leaf miner damage.
  • Squeeze the trails– When you observe the leaf miner tunnels on the leaves, pinch the leaves to kill the hiding larvae. If you spot eggs on the undersides, crush them before hatching. Also, remove heavily infected leaves to prevent the spread of infection.

Check out this video for more information:

Method 2- Place Sticky Traps For Leaf Miners

Sticky traps are bright-colored cards covered with the adhesive that is used for trapping the leaf miners. They could be hung near the plant.

  • Purchase sticky traps– You may purchase yellow or blue sticky traps or make them at home. The yellow and blue color will attract the leaf miners.
  • Hang them near the plant– You may hang them near the plant. Leaf miners will stick to traps and prevent them from mating and attacking tomato plants to lay their eggs.

Check out this video for controlling leaf miners using sticky traps:

Chemical Ways To Control Leaf Miner On Tomato Plants

Spinosad can be used to control and kill the leaf miners. Take care to use chemical control as a last resort, as it can harm beneficial insects.

Method 1- Spray Spinosad Solution

Spinosad is a naturally occurring soil microbe that will halt the feeding and kill the leaf miners within 24-48 hours. Also, it is preferable to apply it later in the day to protect the bees.

  • Prepare spinosad solution– Read the manufacturer’s instructions and dilute the concentrate as required.
  • Apply the affected areas– Spray spinosad solution. It is recommended that ground application had better control than aerial application. But do not apply more than two times in 21 days.

How To Prevent Leaf Miner In Tomato Plants?

The different measures to prevent tomato leaf miners are destroying the damaged plants, tilling the soil after harvest, and using row covers. You may also practice crop rotation and plant decoy crops to deter leaf miners.

Method 1- Destroy The Affected Leaves

Check the seedlings for any signs of leaf miners. Leaf miners attack the first true leaves of the plant. Remove and destroy the affected leaves to prevent the spread of infection.

It is advisable not to discard the affected leaves in the compost pile.

Method 2- Till The Soil

Also, take care to keep the garden free of weeds. Till the soil after harvesting the tomatoes to kill the overwintering pupae and aerating the soil.

Method 3- Use Row Covers

After planting, protect your tomato plants using mesh row covers. This will help deter the leaf miners from landing on your plants to deposit their eggs. Take care to provide enough sunlight and air circulation around the plants while using these row covers.

Method 4- Plant Decoy Crops

You may plant decoy crops, including lamb’s quarter, pigweed, henbane, and nightshade, near the preferred tomato plants. These plants will attract leafminers more than tomato plants.

Method 5- Practice Crop Rotation

Rotate your tomatoes in the new location every year, especially if the area is susceptible to leaf miners. Crop rotation reduces the chance of leaf miner infestation.

What Causes Leaf Miner Attacks In Tomato Plants?

Tomato leaf miner usually attacks tomato plants in late summer and infest plants in great numbers. Also, the persistence of weeds will encourage leaf miners.

The importation of infested plants and soil may cause the spread of infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are leaf miners harmful?

Yes, leaf miners are harmful. They will chew on the leaves and affect the photosynthesis of the plants. Severe infestation may cause the leaves to fall from the plant affecting the overall growth of plants. Also, they will reduce the saleable value of the plants.

Do leaf miners live in soil?

Yes, adult leaf miners live in the soil. But they lay eggs on the undersides of the leaves. The eggs hatch, and larvae will tunnel through the leaves. They will leave the foliage and drop into the ground below. They will later emerge as adult flies.

Can you use hot pepper to get rid of leaf miners?

Some gardeners have had success using hot peppers to get rid of leaf miners. You may boil pepper flakes with water in a pan. Allow the solution to cool, strain them, and spray it on the infected tomato plants. But, more research studies are required to confirm.

Will my tomato plants with leaf miner damage produce tomatoes?

Yes, you may get tomatoes from plants with minor leaf-miner infestation. These bugs damage the foliage, but the plant may still photosynthesize and produce fruits.


Hopefully, this guide has provided you with many options to control leaf miners in tomato plants. You may follow them to prevent future attacks in your garden.

Have you experienced these larvae in your garden? If yes, let me know your suggestions for tackling them.

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