This discussion has nothing to do with the skilled men and women who create premium cigars. It certainly doesn’t deal with the practice of “rolling your own” smokes. No, what we are interested in has to do with garden plants and other leafy vegetation that is attacked by small insects. These tiny pests are commonly called leaf rollers.

When these insects do their work the leaves become crumpled and the edges may literally roll up, thus the name of the pest. There are methods for preventing this damage and for getting rid of an infestation but it will take some new knowledge and some work.

First, we have to find out what type of leaf roller we’re dealing with. There are two types – canna and lesser. The first is the larva of a butterfly, the Brazilian skipper. The primary target for this little fellow is the canna plant. The larva actually rolls itself up in the leaf, providing food and shelter at the same time. The lesser leaf roller is the Geshna Cannalis moth larva. The difference in technique for this pest is that the lesser leaf roller spins strands of material around the leaf.

There are several methods for getting rid of leaf rollers. The first, most basic is manually removing the affected leaves. If you can catch the infestation early you can trim off the deformed leaves and leave behind the healthy leaves. Get rid of the damaged leaves by burning them in a location away from your plants.

You can also take the insects off the plants by hand, even cutting open the rolled up leaves. Wear gloves if you have problems with touching the larva. Some people have had success getting rid of leaf rollers by introducing the ladybug to the plants. The ladybugs feed on garden pests.

If you need to take more drastic measures you’ll have to think “chemicals.” Proper treatment with the right chemical products can save your plants. Stronger chemical treatment may also kill insects that don’t harm your plants and may actually contribute to the health of your garden.

Be sure to wear protective clothing and gloves when working with chemicals. Among the categories of insecticide are Carbaryl and Bacillus. The first is a liquid that penetrates through the leaves and efficiently kills the larva. The second work in much the same way but may only work for a couple of days. You can also use systemic treatments, usually the most potent. You have to be very careful with this treatment because it may damage healthy leaves if not done correctly.

In summary, it’s possible to get rid of leaf rollers but you have to know what kind of pest you’re dealing with. Then you have to give some serious thought about the method that will work best in your situation. It’s important to make the best of any treatment so that you can save time and money, as well as avoid damaging your healthy plants.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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