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Leaf Miner

(May 2012)

QuestionI am growing my first hollyhock flower bed and my plants are afflicted with a light green serpentine leaf ailment. My next door neighbor (one-quarter mile away) has the same problem but with brown crusties on the underside of the leaf. Can you give us a name or a treatment?


AnswerThe problem is called a leaf miner. Think about how small the insect has to be to get between the layers of the leaves and make a tunnel. While it isn’t the most attractive part of the plant, it tends to be more of a cosmetic problem, since the plant continues to grow and bloom. If only a few leaves are affected, simply remove them and destroy them—don’t throw them on the ground, the larvae of the insect may still be inside. If the damage gets worse, you can use insecticides, but once the insects are firmly established, they are more difficult to control, and control is often unnecessary. Do a good job of cleanup in the fall to start next year clean.

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