Be on the lookout for allium leafminer in your spring onions, garlic, or leeks

The allium leafminer (ALM), Phytomyza gymnostoma (Loew) (Diptera: Agromyzidae), is an invasive fly species that was first recorded in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2015. The pest attacks onions, garlic, and leeks where the larvae (maggots) feed on plant tissue by mining the plant causing wilting and possible death. This new pest to the mid-Atlantic area is a long grey-black fly with a distinctive yellow or orange patch on the top of its head, yellow sides and “knees” (femur-tibia junction), and white halteres (knobs as second pair of wings). The larvae are a typical whitish maggot. Adult females repeatedly puncture leaves with their ovipositor, resulting in a line of small white dots. Leaves can be wavy, curled and distorted. Larvae mine leaves and move into bulbs and leaf sheathes where they pupate. This invasive pest was recorded in southwest Virginia in 2021 and has been found in Montgomery, Carroll, Botetourt, and Bedford Counties in Virginia. Please pass this information on to VCE personnel and Master Gardeners so that we can track the spread of this invasive pest in The Commonwealth. The photos below show the life stages of this pest. The egg laying scars (perfect line of tiny circle marks on stems) are telltale sign.

Allium leafminer larva (photo by Sean Boyle, Virginia Tech)
Allium leafminer larva found in Blacksburg, VA in September 2021. (photo by Sean Boyle Virginia Tech)
Oviposition scars by allium leafminer. Photo by Tom Kuhar.

Control: Covering plants in April-May, or September-October, during the adult flights, can exclude the pest. A number of systemic and contact insecticides can provide effective control including neonicotinoids, diamides, spinosyns, and pyrethroids. Products registered for allium leafminer control include:

Mustang Maxx  2.88 to 4.0 fl oz/A           zeta-cypermethrin

Warrior 1.28 to 1.92 fl oz/A         lambda-cyhalothrin

Scorpion 35SL    8.75 to 10.5 fl oz/A         dinotefuran – soil

Scorpion 35SL    5.25 to 7.0 fl oz/A           dinotefuran – foliar

Venom 70SG      5.0 to 6.0 fl oz/A             dinotefuran – soil           

Venom 70SG      3.0 to 4.0 fl oz/A             dinotefuran – foliar        

Entrust SC (OMRI)           3.0 to 6.0 fl oz/A             spinosad           

Radiant SC          6.0 to 10.0 fl oz/A           spinetoram

Trigard 75WSP  2.66 oz/A           cyromazine

Exirel    13.5 to 20.5 fl oz/A         cyantraniliprole

Minecto Pro       7.0 to 10.0 fl oz/A           cyantraniliprole + abamectin