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Columbine Leafminer

White serpentine trails in the leaves of columbine are a sure sign columbine leaf miners are feeding in your plants.

These insects lay their eggs on the surface of the columbine leaves. The eggs hatch and a small worm-like insect enters the leaves.  They feed between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves leaving them intact. Their feeding causes the snakelike trails that are usually our first indication that these pests are present.
 
Fortunately their feeding is not harmful to the plant’s health, so treatment is not needed. Once inside most insecticides will not control these pests since they are safely munching away inside the leaves.
 
You can improve the plant’s appearance with a bit of pruning. Cut the plants back to the ground once they finish blooming. The new growth will be fresh and free of leaf miner damage for the remainder of the season. Plus, it prevents reseeding.
 
A bit more information: The columbine sawfly is an occasional pest of this perennial. These worm-like insects start feeding on the leaf edges in spring. Control small populations by removing and dropping them in a bucket of soapy water.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com


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07/01/2013 3:52PM
Columbine Leafminer
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Eco-friendly Control of Thrips
Poorly developed flowers, stunted plants and silvery streaks on leaves are indications thrips may be feeding on your plants. These tiny insects have file-like mouthparts they use to puncture the outer surface of leaves, stems and flowers and suck out plant sap. They are very small and difficult to detect. Hold a white piece of paper under the plant and shake. Or remove the petals of damaged flowers, place in a sealed jar with 70% alcohol and shake the jar to dislodge and detect the pests. Control is difficult and often not needed as the damage is discovered after the thrips have finished feeding. Provide the proper growing conditions and care for your plants. Avoid excess nitrogen that promotes lush succulent growth these pests prefer. And remove spent flowers that tend to harbor the insects. Manage weeds in the garden and keep thrip-susceptible plants away from weedy areas where the pest populations tend to be high. A bit more information: Beneficial insects like predatory thrips, green lacewings, minute pirate bugs and some parasitic wasps feed upon plant damaging thrips. Invite these good bugs into the garden by planting a diversity of plants and avoiding persistent pesticides. Visit the University of California IPM online for more details on this pest. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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