HELP! Tiny insects!

luisito8m(9)December 4, 2011

I woke up this morning to find out that bugs are eating my cayanne and serrano pepper plants.

They are tiny and round, 1mm diameter at maximum, no wings, black. It seems they somehow enter the leaf and eat it from the inside creating a puzzle like pathway on the leaves and it does look freaky since they only leave the top and bottom membrane of the leaves, they only eat the inside of it..

They are all over spread on my 2 plants, and it seems they are multiplying, I can see tiny eggs beneath some of the leaves.

I am writing this in a hurry, but I may be able to post some pics later today.. Meanwhile, it will be cool to hear some ideas on how to get rid of those things.

I am an amateur gardener so, everysingle advice counts! :D

Thank you guys!


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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Sound like leafminers. But please your image so we can be certain.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:57PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

oops, meant "up;load your images"

I suspect you're seeing the tiny dark spots within the mines. If so, that's the critter's frass ([poop).

- The egg-layers are small flies.
- They put their eggs on the surface of the leaf, often the underside.
- Repeated diligent search-and-destroy missions against the eggs helps greatly.
- Also crush the critters as soon as you see them begin a mine.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 2:01PM
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Jean! Your most right! I googled "leafminers" and that is exactly what my pepper plants got.

I am new to gardening but for me that looks just way too freaky, haha.

So what is your expert advice to kill those things?

Here are links to the pic I took this morning:


    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 5:02PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Oops, you have two things going there.

The leafminers: Management = a very alert gardener. look for and squish white eggs on the backs of the leaves. Do the same when the mines are still very small.
If you use a pesticide, make certain it's safe for edibles.

The dark spots on the backs of the leaves are aphids. Not at all related to leafminers. They suck plant sap from leaf tissue.
Management is an alert gardener who squishes and/or washes them off on a regular basis (every several days).

That said, keep the little tan things which are among the black guys. They are also aphids *but* the good news is that they have been killed by beneficial insects. New aphid killers will emerge from those tan (dead) aphids and will continue to help you manage the aphids.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 7:09PM
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OMG! That is horrible! I thought they were they same thing..

I don't wanna keep any of those things around my plants. What is your recommendation to get rid of them?

This morning when I became aware of the insects I started to cut down lots of leaves, specially the leafminers and a big leaf that contained an army of black aphids but the plants still have loads of those things, sadly I had removed all the tan aphids before I read ur post.

So tan ones are gone, still got an army of black ones and leafminers everywhere.

First time I am planting and I am getting really freaked out.

How do I kill them? I feel like taking extreme measures here. Aphid and leafminer genocide.

Sorry if I sound too bold and excited, but it took me a lot of effort to grow those, my first 2 pepper plants and I don't want anything to hurt them. After so many tries and google research, I got them growing.

Thanks so much for ur help and warm understanding. :)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:09AM
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Leaf miners seldom cause enough of a problem to be of much concern and many methods of control suggested cannot be used on food producing crops because of toxicity. The link attached might be of some help.
Aphids are easily controled by knocking them off the plants with a sharp stream of water. Some people suggest using the garden hose (the pressure of that can cause more damage then the Aphids) but I have found that a spray bottle with just water in works fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Leaf miners

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 6:43AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

luis, most people can easily adjust the water pressure from the hose so that the pressure is strong enough to knock aphids off, but not enough to harm any foliage. For just a couple of plants, though, I'd use the squirt and squish method.

Don't be freaked out. Aphids are one of the most common of all garden pests and can be found on almost any kind of plant. The good things are that they are pretty easy to control without chemicals and that they have a host of natural controls in the way of predators and parasites.

It is very important for growers of all kinds of plants to keep a careful watch for pests so that we can control them before they become real problems. As you've learned, this means looking at the top AND undersides of the foliage.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:02AM
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The other problem with lugging the garden hose around the garden to knock Aphids off plants is that it can damage other plants as you move it around and it can be heavy. A quart spray bottle is pretty light and very portable, although it may well mean making several trips back to the garden hose to fill up. That spray bottle is also easier to get into some places than a garden hose would be.
As is stated in the article attached, the University of California people believe high Nitrogen levels contribute to Aphids populations.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aphids

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 7:01AM
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I use fertilizer and it is Nitrogen based. Should I stop using that?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 9:37AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

luis, garden plants require some fertilization and absolutely need nitrogen, along with other elements necessary for normal growth and development. Kimmsr stated the HIGH nitrogen levels probably contribute to aphid populations. This is something that has long been observed....excess N can cause succulent vegetative growth that aphids and other piercing sucking insects find very desirable.

Sometimes, new gardeners go overboard in their fertilization practices...not understanding that less is best for most plants (under most conditions).

Gardeners always need to look for a balance between too much vegetative growth and not enough. Plants will suffer at either end. Are these plants in the outdoor soil or in containers?

Another good reason to be conservative with N applications is that induced vegetative growth might occur AT THE SACRIFICE of fruit or vegetable or flower development.

All this being said, luis, it is important to remember that fertilization doesn't CAUSE aphids to appear. They are ubiquitous. Your garden can be filled with the healthiest of plants growing in the healthiest and most balanced of soil and you will still find aphids. Infestations will simply be less of a problem.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:30PM
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Oooohhh! Thanks a lot rhizo. I would say that I am fertilizing my plants on a "normal" way. My cayenne and serrano are on 8in pots outside and each gets my mix of 1/2 gallon of water and fertilizer every sunday. I use Miracle Grow, the redish/pinkish power for tomatoes and vegetables.

On the last few days the climate has dropped very low and hopefully, the aphids and leafminers die by frost.

I've been meaning to make my own soap water, but the stores only sell detergent. Very hard to find.

Would u say that I am on the right track?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 4:33PM
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