Tiny Orange Insects Near My Boxwoods

boxwood leaf miner (image courtesy of Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org)

Q: I have boxwoods that are swarming with these tiny, orange, mosquito-looking insects. What could they be? 

A: “Orange” is the key descriptive word. No other small insect is orange at this time of year except boxwood leaf miner adults. They flutter around your boxwood and lay eggs on the underside of new leaves. The eggs hatch in a few weeks and the grubs bore into the leaf and tunnel between the upper and lower leaf surfaces. The damage looks like pimples or blisters on the leaf. If the insect is not controlled, the shrub may die in a few years. There is no need to kill the adults you see now; they hatch constantly and you’d have to spray every few days. The best strategy is to apply a systemic insecticide in mid-June when the grubs are feeding inside the leaf. One treatment can last a full year.

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