Leaf Miner Extraction

As you may know, Swiss Chard is my favorite vegetable, and I don't share it with anyone. I'd replanted my first crop of chard seedlings about a month ago, and transferred them to outdoor, elevated planters. I was aghast to find that some thing had been munching on the leaves. I ripped off a few infected leaves and walked two blocks to Sloat Gardening Center, where the gardeners declared: Leaf Miners! And sold me an "organic" spray that apparently only infects insects; a synthetic molecule that when ingested by a bug, causes over stimulation of the bug nervous system so that they die. It's bug specific. I then googled leaf miners and learned that they are larvae of various flying insects that eat the soft tissue in the leaf; they don't actually make holes except for where they enter as larvae and pupate, and then make an exit hole when they are adult. So. They're INSIDE there?

I held leaves up to the light, and sure enough, I could see tiny wiggly things under the"skin" of the leaf. They seemed quite snug in there. Well not for much longer, haha!! I dusted off my macro lens (Canon 100mm f/2.8), which has been sitting in the corner for far too long. Then set about gently peeling the leaf apart, to reveal the offending leaf miners. The larvae tried their best to squeeze into the pieces of leaf that remained, but they had no place to hide. Clearly, they did not like being in the sun, or having their photo taken.

I may have to prune more leaves. It is interesting that the mama egg layer chose only large leaves. It makes sense - the leaf miner larvae is going to need a lot of food. Laying on a small leaves makes leaf miner larvae life harder. That means mama egg layers can assess leaf size.

I don't like to share my chard with them, but insects sure are interesting!