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The Lilac Leaf Miner (Caloptilia Syringella)
The lilac leaf miner is a small moth that arrives at your lilac bush and deposits its eggs into the middle of the leaves. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. The damage looks initially as olive green patches that later turn into brown, blotchy areas. WSU recommends removing the infested leaves as soon as noticed.

Lilac leaf miners also attack privet, ash and fringe trees. This is a widespread pest in the region that continues to get more abundant and is now a serious problem.

The moth has three flights to our lilac bushes per season. Flights arrive the first weeks of May, July, and September. Having this accurate timing for a pest is very rare and makes it a lot easier to target effective control methods.

The control mission is to keep the adult moth from your lilac leaves. Once the eggs are safely deposited within the leaf, the lilac leaf miner is free to eat, protected from virtually all control methods except for leaf removal. Controls are abundant and with the proper timing already given to us the only thing we really have to do is get out there and do something during the week that each flight arrives.

Covering is a great way to protect your lilac if you have a lilac bush that is small enough to cover with agricultural fleece.

A UV bug zapper light set with a timer for PM hours and hung near your lilac is very effective. The moths are quite attracted to the bright light.

Repellent type of dusts or sprays should be applied at this time. Remember that contact sprays such as Pyrethrum, oils, or soaps do little good unless sprayed at night when the moths are active. Obviously, that is a tough job. Stomach poisons are very ineffective because the adult moth is there to deposit eggs, not feed on the leaf. Sticky traps can also be hung to predict the adult moth flight arrival.


The lilac leaf miner makes it's first appearance in the spring.