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Last year I wrote a blog about cuckoo spit, in which I documented the fauna that had appeared in my garden after I had transformed it from a paved courtyard. I celebrated the arrival of butterflies, birds, froghopper nymphs and moths, but was less pleased by the discovery of slugs, snails and leaf miners. One commenter suggested I take a closer look at leaf miners, which he described as “fascinating”.
Leaf miners literally ‘mine’ leaves, tunnelling through them and eating them from the inside, before pupating and emerging as an adult. They are usually species of fly or moth, but some are types of beetle or sawfly. There are flies that tunnel through spinach and beetroot, moths that fashion phallic-shaped ‘cases’ from leaves of apples, beetles that leave red blotches on hawthorn leaves and, of course, moths that devastate horse chestnut trees.
On the whole, I like leaf miners. I don’t enjoy finding them in my saucepan after harvesting spinach in the dark, and I was upset when they mined my aquilegias to death (they weren’t the healthiest of specimens to start with). But, despite these hiccups, I’m happy to share my garden with them. Some of the patterns they make on leaves are quite beautiful – I like to think of them as nature’s graffiti.
As well as such interesting fauna, lots of plants have appeared in my garden since I transformed it from a courtyard. Some of them, such as the spear thistle and creeping thistle, are less welcome than others, but I can’t get rid of them now – they’ve been decorated with the most beautiful markings by a leaf miner.
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