The boxwood leafminer is the most commonly reported pest of boxwoods in North Carolina. Accidentally introduced from Europe, this small fly seems to prefer American boxwood, although English and Japanese boxwoods are also susceptible.
Boxwoods infested with this leafminer develop blisters on the lower leaf surface (Figure 1). Infested leaves are usually smaller, off-color and drop sooner than healthy leaves. Heavily infested boxwoods usually have sparse foliage and poor color. Shrubs are generally not killed by leafminers.
Adult leafminer flies emerge over a two-week period in early spring just after the boxwoods have put out their new growth (about the time weigelas bloom). These flies are like tiny, orange mosquito-like (about 1⁄8 inch long) insects which swarm around or cling to boxwoods. After laying eggs in the leaf tissue, the flies die. There is one generation per year.
Tiny, whitish maggots hatch and feed inside the leaf (Figure 3). As they grow (up to 1⁄8 inch long), the maggots become bright yellow. Several maggots may develop in a single leaf. Their feeding induces the formation of blisters on the lower leaf surface inside of which the maggots develop for about a year. Very early the next spring, the blisters form a thin, translucent spot called the window, and the maggots develop into orange pupae. Fully developed pupae wriggle through the windows and hang down from the underside of the leaf (Figure 4). Soon adult flies emerge from the pupae to begin a new generation.
One of the pesticides listed in the table can be applied just as the boxwood leafminer flies appear in the spring. The flies emerge just after the new growth appears on boxwoods in April. At other times of the year, use a systemic such as Merit, Marathon, Tristar or Acelepryn as soil drench or soil injection. For the latest chemical recommendations, see the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual. Other homeowner lawn and garden products may be helpful. English boxwood seems less affected and Ohio reports 'Suffruticosa,' 'Pendula,' and 'Argenteno-variegata' as less susceptable. Consult the labels and your local Cooperative Extension agent.
|Pesticide Name and Formulation||Trade Name||Labeled Location||Signal Word||IROC MOA Group||Compatible with Beneficials|
|abamectin†||Avid||G, L, N||Caution||6||Yes|
|acetamiprid||TriStar||G, N, L||Caution||4A||Yes|
|azadirachtin†||Azatin||G, N, L, I||Caution||18B||Yes|
|bifenthrin†||Talstar||G, N, L, I||Caution||3||No|
|dinotefuran||Safari||G, N, L, I||Caution||4A||Yes|
|imidacloprid||Marathon II||G, N||Caution||4A||Yes|
|permethrin†||Astro (some homeowner insecticides may also contain permethrin or bifenthrin)||G, N, L, I||Caution||3||No|
|pyripoxyfen†||Distance||G, N, L, I||Caution||7C||Yes|
|G = greenhouse, N = nursery, L = landscape, I = interiorscape
† Spray when adults are flying.
* Suitable for home use.
Recommendations of specific chemicals are based upon information on the manufacturer's label and performance in a limited number of trials. Because environmental conditions and methods of application by growers may vary widely, performance of the chemical will not always conform to the safety and pest control standards indicated by experimental data.
- Boxwood Diseases & Insect Pests. Kluepfel, M., J. M. Scott, J. H. Blake, and C. S. Gorsuch. 2009 (revised). Clemson Coop. Extension Home & Garden Information Center.
- Insect and Related Pests of Shrubs
- NC State Horticultural Science Publications
- NC Extension Plant Pathology Publications and Factsheets
- North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual
- N.C. Cooperative Extension
For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension center.
Publication date: Jan. 1, 2011
Revised: March 4, 2019
Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by NC State University or N.C. A&T State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.
North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.