Pest Control: How to Control Beetles and Leafminers

How to Control Leafminers

When you noticed that the leaves of your vegetable has serpentine mines that wind snake-like across the leaves, that is a problem similar to all other farmers and gardeners. It is called leafminer.

Leafminers are larvae of various insects including beetles, flies, and moths. These larvae are very small with a size of 1/5 of an inch or 1/8 of an inch in length. They live and feed on plant leaves.  Adults lay their eggs in clusters just under the surface of the leaf epidermis. For 1 to 3 weeks larvae mine leaves, then when they mature, they drop to the ground.

Although the larvae damage has little or no effect on plant growth and  is not fatal to larger plant, but the case is different with regard to plants in the seedling stage of growth. If you will not prevent them early, the extreme population of leafminers may slow your plant growth. If they infested your edible plants, this will result in financial loss because the plant is no longer marketable.

Preventing leafminers requires a lot of observation because even if you spray them with insecticide they will not be killed because they are inside the leaves. You have to time this perfectly so that the pesticide kills the larva and adult flies. If you spray too early, the insecticide will not injure the eggs or the adult flies.

How to Prevent Leafminer?

There are several ways to prevent leafminers but it requires patience and keen observation. Here are some of the solutions in preventing leafminers.

  • Check your seedlings for leafminers’ damage before transplanting them in your vegetable garden.
  • Cover Plants. Use fine smooth white cloth to keep adults from laying eggs on leaves especially small seedlings.
  • Immediately pick infested leaves and destroy it, do not leave it near the plants. Once you have spotted the patterns of a tunnel, you can crush the larvae inside by applying pressure to the tunnel between two fingers. If caught early,this can solve an infestation before it even spreads.
  • Plant trap crops. Their population can be prevented by planting plant trap crops near the plants most targeted by leafminer.
  • Use Neem oil. Spray with neem oil to disrupt the life cycle of the insects to the point they do not feed, fly or mate. Spray daily for a week.
  • Encourage parasitic wasps in your plant. The wasps lay their eggs inside the leafminers. When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings will feed on them, thereby killing them. These wasps also feed on leafminer larvae and can significantly reduce leafminer population. In some countries, parasitic wasps is produced and sold to farmers to kill these leafminers.
  • Till your soil after harvesting your vegetable especially if there has been leafminer infestation. This will reduce leafminers infestation.
  • Look for egg clusters on plants regularly and destroy them as soon as they are visible.
  • Use sticky traps to catch egg laying adults.
  • Keep your plants healthy. Remove unhealthy plants. Leafminers are most attracted to plants that are already susceptible to pests and diseases. By removing plants that are less than optimal health, you can increase the likelihood that the leafminers will leave your healthier plants alone.
  • Keep plants well-watered to help keep them healthy and vigorous.
  • As mentioned earlier, you need to time this if you will use insecticide, organic or non-organic. To do this, you’ll need to do a little testing. Find some infested leaves, keep inside a plastic bag and seal it properly If you see larvar growing, you can start spraying your plants. Begin immediately, and spray your plants everyday for 7 days. This is the most effective use of insecticide for leafminer.

How to Control Beetles

Pests are naturally occurring organisms that cause damage to field crops, livestock, and other farm resources. Pests can be rodents, birds, insects, and animals that harm agriculture produce. Pests may cause problems with crop damage parasitic infection or cause discomfort and toxicity to human health.Beetles are categorized as insect pests. Beetles not only harm growing plants but can adversely harm the harvest or even stored produce

Insect pests possess chewing mouthparts through which they cause severe damage to field crops and stored products after harvesting. The process of insect pest damage particularly beetles is done through direct feeding on the plant root and shoot leading to loss of weight and yield quality. Some species bore into the seed endosperm resulting in poor seed germination and reduced viability. Harvested grains lose quality and market value from their damage. 

Beetles belong to the order Coleoptera and are a vast group of insects that endanger harmful insects after harvesting of great economic importance: several types of beetles attack crops in both fields and at stores. Beetles are found in diverse habitats including farms and storehouses. Those associated with stored products show different behaviors; some of them are primary and secondary pests such as genus Sitophilus and Tribolium that feed directly on stored harvests while others are predators that feed on other insects. 

Other insect groups such as Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) causes damage only at the adult stage but Coleoptera (beetles) crop damage is inflicted at both larvae and adult stages. Larvae and adults can chew the leaves, and growth apex, underground roots and stems depending on the species. Thus, they alter the physiological processes required for plants growth and development. 

Types of Beetle pests

There are many species that cause damage to plant and stored products but are classified into four major groups. These are Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles), Cerambycidae (longhorn beetles), Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles) and Carabidae (ground beetles)

Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles) are found all over the world, but more attributed to the tropics. They have an oval shape and short legs with antennas around half the length of the body measuring less than 12 mm.

Chrysomelidae (leaf beetle)

Cerambycidae (longhorn beetles) are a broad family of beetle insects characterized by extremely long antennas, usually longer than the body.

Cerambycidae (longhorn beetle)

Scarabaeidae (scarab beetles) are often black or brown in color. Tropical species are usually bright colors and covered with many body marks. The beetles have a thick oval shape and three pairs of legs. They possess hard front wings called elytra used in self-defense to protect themselves from predators.

Scarabaeidae (scarab beetle)

Carabidae (ground beetles) are often found within the soil regions and can be recognized easily when sighted through their long legs and elytra (wings) either black or brown in color with body ridges along the central line.

Carabidae (ground beetle)

Management and pest control of Beetles

Most pests including beetles can significantly increase their number in a relatively short time. Beetles infect a farm severely when the environment is suitable for their living. It is important to ensure proper weed control as beetles tend to hide around leaves and root region of weeds. Crop rotation can also be done occasionally to reduce the rate of pest infestation. Shifting cultivation can also help to reduce the pressure of harmful pests. Chemical pesticides can be applied if the number of pests is increasing and infestation persists. Ensure to use recommended pesticides and apply as written on the pesticide label to maintain the health of your plants and farming environment.

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