Columbine leafminers

The first round of flowering is about over for my native columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. Columbine is a great early spring flower that flowers profusely and spread easily by seed. Spring bees and humming birds visit columbine flowers particularly in early spring when it is one of the only flowers present.

Heavily mined columbine leaves. Photo: SD Frank

Heavily mined columbine leaves. Photo: SD Frank

The columbine leafminer, Phytomyza aquilegivora, overwinters as pupae. Adults emerge in early spring and oviposit in new columbine leaves. Small white maggots mine the leaves creating white or grey serpentine pathways. Often entire leaves are discolored. Larvae pupate after about 10 days on the underside of leaves. Columbine leafminer has at least 4 overlapping generations per year in North Carolina. There are at least 13 species of parasitoids that become more abundant as the summer progresses.

Braman et al. (2005) reported that the native species, A. canadensis, is more resistant to leafminers than many other species of cultivars. Removing and destroying infested leaves before adults emerge may help reduce damage to subsequent leaves. Leafminer control is often best to left the parasitoids become established and just accept some damage. If you are a grower than there are several insecticides available to help reduce leafminer damage.

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