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Hellebore leaf miner

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last updated Dec 2, 2013
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Hellebore leaf miner

A leaf mining fly that became established in Britain in the 1990s can cause considerable disfigurement to the foliage of stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus.

What is hellebore leaf miner? Back to top

Hellebore leaf miner is a small fly with larvae that tunnel inside the leaves of Helleborus foetidus.

Symptoms Back to top

  • Only Helleborus foetidus is affected by this pest.
  • The mines in the leaves are initially brownish-black blotches, but later become sinuous, whitish-brown tunnels.
  • In heavy attacks, most of the foliage will be disfigured by spring.
  • Damage develops during late summer to early spring.

Control Back to top

Non-chemical control

  • Although the mines can be unsightly, H. foetidus plants are not greatly harmed and so the damage can be tolerated.
  • Heavily mined leaves can be cut off and destroyed during the winter before the adult flies emerge.

Chemical control

  • The systemic insecticides Provado Ulimate Bug Killer (thiacloprid) and Bug Clear Ultra (acetamiprid) may give control of newly hatched hellebore leaf miner larvae if applied in August.


Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology Back to top

  • This small fly was first discovered in Britain in 1999 but is now widespread in England.
  • Eggs are laid on the foliage and the larvae begin feeding inside the leaves during August.
  • The mines are not fully developed until the new year. Pupation takes place within the leaf mines.

Quick facts

Common name Hellebore leaf miner
Scientific name Phytomyza hellebori
Plants affected Stinking hellebore Helleborus foetidus
Main symptoms Brownish black blotches and lines develop on the foliage during winter
Most active August to March