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I live in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. This Swiss Chard has been doing well so far this season, and all the largest leaves you see here were green and strong as recently as a few days ago.

We had the hottest day of the season so far, a couple days ago- any chance that's related?

I also noticed increased ant activity recently. Worth investigating possible colony near the roots? I have an overactive imagination.

Swiss Chard in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. suddenly started wilting a few days ago

The neighbors are happy: Cabbage, Arugula & Collards.

The neighbors are happy: Cabbage, Arugula & Collards.

UPDATE the answer is Leaf Miners. Notice the white capsules on the leaves in the photographs below.

Leaf Miner larvae attached to the bottom of a Swiss Chard leaf Leaf Miner larvae attached to the bottom of a Swiss Chard leaf

UPDATE three days after I purged the initial infestation from the Swiss chard, I happened to notice a single leaf miner burrowing into the leaf of one of my cabbages right next to the infected site! I popped the bugger like a zit right there in the leaf. Haven't seen any more in the 2 days since. Lesson: be vigilant! Keep your eyes open.

ALSO I've ordered some "beneficial nematodes" which many people recommend in order to help the ecosystem in your all-natural (read: pesticide-free) dirt good for plants, bad for little pest larvae.

  • Chard will be fine in the heat, especially the really mild heat of recent. Are any plants surrounding this plant appearing ill as well? How well draining is the soil? – mikegreen May 19 '14 at 14:18
  • @mikegreen the neighbors are happy; I'll add a picture of them now, to the original question. Also drainage seems good in the sense that the soil does become drier within 24 hours and dried within 48 hours of rain. – Charney Kaye May 19 '14 at 21:35
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Look on the bottom of the leaves. If you see small rows of tiny white capsules, you have leaf miners.

These devastated spinach and chard for our garden. They also infest beet greens but are not a problem unless you eat the tops.

Control is to remove infested plants, put screens over the plants to keep the flies from coming onto the plants, and eliminate host plants. Also, they pupate in the top layer of soil, so if you can churn the soil it would be great, otherwise, break the cycle of host plants for a season.

enter image description here

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  • You nailed it! Uploading photographs now. I'm so thankful you tipped me off to this before the little %#*%s get into anything else. – Charney Kaye May 20 '14 at 13:01
  • I've found that yellow chard seems to be more resistant vs red chard. The yellow leaves appear to be thicker and less susceptible to wilt. They'll still host the pest though. Some suggest neem oil to control but I haven't used that yet. – smigol May 20 '14 at 17:45
  • Thanks, neem oil seems to be the tip. For now (after eliminating the host plants) I'm placing yellow sticky-cards on stakes over the host site, in hopes of trapping the flies that might come up (after tilling the soil, which should also help kill larvae). – Charney Kaye May 20 '14 at 19:03

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