Allium Leafminer Moving South in Maryland

Jerry Brust, IPM Vegetable Specialist, University of Maryland;

The new pest of onion, leek and garlic, the Allium leafminer, is moving south in Maryland. It was first observed in Maryland in Cecil Co. in 2017, but now the fly’s tell-tale marks (Figs. 1 and 2) have been found in a Baltimore City chives planting. This new pest was first found in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in December 2015. Unfortunately, it is my guess that the pest is now probably in many northern/central areas of Maryland. New transplants or seedings of onions or leeks should be watched closely for the tell-tale signs of the fly’s damage which are several very small white dots in a row along the leaf of an allium plant (Figs. 1 and 2).

Figures 1 and 2. Tell-tale marks on allium leaf made by Allium leafminer females

Penn State has a great deal of good information about the new pest which can be found at: Penn State Allium Leafminer Pest Alert page. Growers should look for these tell-tale signs on any newly planted allium species, but especially on leeks. You can cover any Allium planting with row cover to keep the flies off or if needed treat with insecticides as found in the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Recommendations guide.