- Exclude adult flies by using row covers.
- Encourage parasitic wasps by planting nectar-and pollen-rich flowers with small, shallow blooms, such as dill and yarrow.
- Cultivate the soil in fall to disturb pupae.
- Control weeds such as lamb's-quarter and dock that are known to be leafminer hosts.
- Rotate spinach, chard, and beet crops.
- Use a neem-based spray in severe cases. Neem acts as a repellant and also slows the leafminers' ability to feed, interrupting the cycle.
The first step in controlling these pests is monitoring. "Look for a small fly, more delicate than a housefly but larger than a gnat," says entomologist Ruth Hazzard. "Check for tiny rows of little white eggs on the undersides of leaves." Rub them off by hand. If you notice trails, immediately remove and trash—but don't compost—affected leaves. Additional control tactics:
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