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Can Neem Oil Kill Leaf Miners?

Neem oil has been used as a pest repellent for centuries—and leaf miners have been, well, "pesty" for about the same length of time. It just makes sense that most gardeners would use neem oil to protect their crops from leaf miners, right? But just because neem oil has a solid track record doesn't mean it's effective against every bug. If you're thinking about using neem oil for leaf miners, you need to consider our research on this topic.

Neem oil is a common remedy for leaf miners. Many gardeners spray neem oil on affected leaves to clear away leaf miners and their larvae. While neem oil on its own may not be enough for a severe leaf miner infestation, it can help.

If you still have some more questions about neem oil and leaf miners, don't worry. In this post, we'll discuss the topic in more detail. Neem oil is beneficial for getting rid of leaf miners, but you must know how to use it for the best results. Please keep reading to learn how to put neem oil to good use against leaf miners. 

Damage squash leaves caused by leafminers, Can Neem Oil Kill Leaf Miners?

Can Neem Oil Kill Leaf Miners?

There's some debate over whether neem oil kills mature leaf miners, but most gardeners agree it dampens their reproduction. 

Neem seeds have a potent anti-pest compound called azadirachtin. High doses of azadirachtin can destroy the tiny larvae leaf miners lay on your leaves. 

Cucumber leaf damaged by leaf miners

When leaf miners eat azadirachtin, they also tend to feel less hungry. Applying neem oil could have the secondary effect of starving mature leaf miners to death. 

So, while neem oil may not instantly eradicate mature leaf miners, it does a great job halting their growth and reproduction. Fewer eggs on your plant mean there will be fewer leaf miners to deal with later on. 

By the way, you can read our post on the 12 Types Of Leaf Miner Insects That Could Be In Your Garden for more in-depth details on how to deal with these bugs. 

How Do You Use Neem Oil For Leaf Miners? 

A scientist collecting larvae and placing them on a petri dish

You could spray a mix of neem oil and water directly on your leaves either as a preventative measure or to kill leaf miners. However, since oil and water don't mix, many gardeners recommend adding insecticidal soap to your neem oil formula. 

Not only does this soap kill bugs but it can also help evenly incorporate neem oil into your mix. Here's a popular recipe for a potent neem oil spray:

  • 6.5 ounces of neem oil
  • 4 gallons of lukewarm water 
  • 5 teaspoons of insecticidal soap 

Once you've incorporated these ingredients in a spray bottle, coat all affected leaves (both front and back) in your garden. You could use this spray once or twice per week until you notice a significant improvement in leaf miners. 

Click here to see this neem oil on Amazon.

To learn more about using neem oil spray on plants, watch this video:

How Often Should You Spray Neem Oil For Leaf Miners? 

How often you should apply neem oil will depend on the potency of your spray and the degree of your problem.

You should use a high-concentration neem oil spray about once per week for an existing leaf miner issue. However, if you only want to use neem oil as a preventative pesticide, you could spray a more diluted mixture either once a week or biweekly. 

For more details on using neem oil for leaf miners, be sure to watch this tutorial:

When Should You Spray Neem Oil For Leaf Miners? 

Ideally, you should spray your neem oil late in the day. It's best to let the neem oil coat your leaves overnight to avoid burning them in broad daylight.

Please never apply neem oil in the middle of the day. Many gardeners report that neem oil intensifies the sun's rays. So, if your plants are coated with neem oil when the sun is at its highest, it could result in leaf burn. If you can't apply neem oil in the afternoon, it's better to coat your plants early in the morning. 

Should You Add Ingredients To Neem Oil for Leaf Miners? 

Many gardeners like to add insecticidal soap to their neem oil sprays. The soap enhances the potency of neem oil and helps this compound mix with warm water.

Click here to see this insecticidal soap on Amazon.

Be sure to shake your neem spray very well before using it to ensure this oil is well incorporated. 

Is Neem Oil The Best Way To Kill Leaf Miners? 

A huge diamondback moth lying on the leaf

While neem oil is an effective insecticide for leaf miners, it may not be the "best" product depending on your gardening preferences and situation. 

For instance, many gardeners report great success using commercially available pesticides on leaf miners. While these products may have greater potency, they're often not as environmentally friendly as neem oil. 

If you're planning on cooking the plants you spray with commercial pesticide, you need to double-check if it's food safe. Some people with dietary restrictions may feel uncomfortable using these products on leafy vegetables.  

It's also possible to control leaf miners by pruning affected leaves and physically crushing larvae with your hands. Some gardeners also like to use beneficial bacteria like bacillus thurigiensis or introduce wasps that eat leaf miners.

Each of these strategies is successful against leaf miners, but they have benefits and drawbacks. Please assess your gardening goals before choosing the perfect plan for you. 

Is It Safe To Use Neem Oil On Indoor Plants? 

You can safely spray diluted neem oil on indoor plants. Unlike many manufactured insecticides, neem oil is an all-natural product with a high safety profile.

However, if you're going to use neem oil indoors, be sure to review our guide: What’s The Best Neem Oil For Indoor Plants

Is Neem Oil Considered Organic? 

Process of extracting Neem oil

Authentic neem oil is an all-natural insecticide from a tree native to India. Neem oil is also an approved organic pesticide

You just have to double-check that your neem oil doesn't have any unnatural additives that may interfere with its organic status. 

What Oil Could You Use Besides Neem Oil? 

If you don't have neem oil on hand, you could mix your insecticidal soap with warm water and vegetable oil. A standard ratio for this mix is as follows:

  • 17 ounces of warm water 
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil 
  • 1 teaspoon of insecticidal soap

While vegetable oil doesn't have the natural beneficial compounds found in neem oil, it can help coat your plants with the insecticidal soap. True, this mixture may be weaker than neem oil, but many gardeners claim it removes leaf miners. 

To find out how some gardeners use this mix against leaf miners, watch this video:

Is Neem Oil Effective Against Pests Besides Leaf Miners?  

A Japanese beetle eating away the leaf of a plant

Neem oil can protect your plants against dozens of harmful pests and fungi. Just a few of the top bugs people use neem oil for include the following:

  • Aphids
  • Whiteflies
  • Thrips
  • Fungus gnats 
  • Japanese beetles 

On the downside, neem oil may adversely affect some beneficial bugs you want in your garden. Most notably, neem oil can kill caterpillars. Since caterpillars eventually become pollinators when they turn into butterflies, this could be a significant disadvantage. 

Thankfully, neem oil only affects pests that chew on leaves. This means you don't have to worry about killing bees or butterflies when spraying neem oil. Neem oil also doesn't affect your beautiful ladybugs. 

Can Neem Oil Harm Plants? 

A small bottle of Neem oil and Neem leaves on the side

A significant concern with using neem oil is burning your leaves. You must use neem oil either later in the day or very early in the morning to avoid baking your plants in the direct sunlight. It's also possible your neem oil could damage leaves on plants that are already stressed or too young. 

If you're unsure whether your neem oil will harm your plants, experts recommend testing it on a small area. This way, if the neem oil has a negative impact, you won't kill your entire plant. Also, don't forget to adjust your neem oil dilution if you feel it was too strong for your leaves.  

Got Leaf Miners? Get Neem Oil! 

Damage squash leaves caused by leafminers

If leaf miners are tearing through your gorgeous green leaves, you can stop them with a neem oil spray. A simple mix of neem oil, water, and insecticidal soap is a time-honored remedy for leaf miners. 

Just be extra careful about when you apply neem oil to avoid further damage to your leaves. For the best results, you should coat your neem oil spray on affected leaves late in the day. Hopefully, this strategy will get your leaf miner issue under control. Good luck!