Serpentine mines in columbine leaves caused by a leafminer

Spring damage to columbine leaves caused by columbine leafminers should be finished by June 1, so start planning now for next year.

As columbine plants begin producing beautiful flowers, the leaves may be so heavily attacked by columbine leafminer that more than 75 percent of the leaf tissue is destroyed. This weakens the plants, sometimes leading to decline. Larvae of a small, black and yellow fly tunnel inside the leaves, making the serpentine galleries.

Columbine plants can be protected by applying imidacloprid (Merit or Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect Control, as two examples) as a soil drench in late April or early May. Columbine plants can also be sprayed with acephate (Orthene) in early May when the leaves are about half-expanded, to protect the leafminer. Most of the spring damage will be finished by June 1, and it may be better to plan for next year.

columbine flowers
Columbine flowers. Photo credit: Mariette Nowak

Leafminer damage to columbine.Photo credit: NCSU

columbine sawfly
Leaf mines caused by columbine leafminer.
Photo credit: Rebecca Finneran, MSUE

 Dr. Smitley’s work is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

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