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Leaf-miner flies
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Superfamily: Opomyzoidea
Family: Agromyzidae

The family Agromyzidae is commonly referred to as the leaf-miner flies, for the feeding habits of their larvae, most of which are leaf miners on various plants.

A worldwide family of approximately 2,500 species, they are small, some with wing length of 1 mm. The maximum size is 6.5 mm. Most species are in the range of 2 to 3 mm.

General description[edit]

Adult agromyzids can be recognized by the distinctive sclerotization of the head. The upper part of the frons, above the ptilinal suture (known as the frontal vitta) is lightly sclerotized and lacks setae, while the lower part of the frons and the dorsal area of the head tends to be much more heavily sclerotized and setaceous. Thus, the frontal vitta often forms a distinctive patch on the head, different in colour and texture from the rest of the head. The compound eyes are usually oval and fairly small, although in some species they are larger and more circular.

Larval mines of Phytomyza ilicis

The wings are usually hyaline, although those of a few tropical species have darker markings. A few species, including all Agromyza spp., are capable of stridulation, possessing a "file" on the first abdominal segment and a "scraper" on the hind femur. The family Agromyzidae is commonly referred to as the leaf-miner flies, for the feeding habits of their larvae, most of which are leaf miners on various plants.

Figure 3 Cerodontha denticornis 3a head lateral. 3b antennna and figure 5 Phytomyza affinis 5a head lateral. 5b face 5c antenna

Technical description[edit]

For terms see Morphology of Diptera. Small, sometimes minute, flies most 0.9mm. to 6.0mm in length. The body is usually short, the thorax has a rectangular profile, with a well-developed humeral callus. The abdomen is broad and the legs are short.The thorax and abdomen are often light grey, rarely dark, but may be yellow, green, blue-green and variably coppery or metallic. The wings are equal in length to the body or slightly longer.Wings with the lower calypter much reduced or absent. Chaetotaxy well developed, especially on the head.The postvertical orbital bristles on the head are always present and divergent, inner and outer vertical bristles on the head are well developed : ocellar bristles, frontal bristles (2-8 pairs of frontal bristles, the lower 1-3 pairs curving inward, the other pairs backward), vibrissae (in some cases weakly developed), and oral bristles are always present. Interfrontal bristles are absent; but interfrontal setulae are sometimes present The basal segment of the antennae is very short; the second antennal segment is not grooved. The third antennal segment is always large, usually round ( not elongated but sometimes with a sharp point)and usually with swollen and almost bare or pubescent arista never plumose.The face in lateral view is not deeply excavated between the antennae and the edge of the mouth.The ptilinal suture is clearly defined.The mouthparts are functional.The proboscis is usually short and thick, rarely elongated and geniculate (Ophiomyia). The maxillary palps are 1 segmented and porrect.The thorax is without a continuous dorsal suture and without well defined posterior calli. The thorax has well developed dorsocentral bristles, postalar bristles, supraalar bristles, acrostichal and intraalar bristles. The scutellum has two to four bristles.On each side of the thorax is a humeral bristle and 1-2 notopleural bristles. In describing the bristles of the thorax (dorsocentral bristles and acrostichal ) a formula is used in which the first number of indicates the postsutural ones, and the second number, following a plus (+) or minus (-) sign the presutural.There are few bristles on the legs but bristles on tibia 2, are of taxonomic significance. Tibiae without a dorsal pre-apical bristle. Hind tibiae without strong bristles in the basal 4/5. The front femora is without a conspicuous spine beneath. The wing venation usually exhibits 1st and 2nd basal, anal and discal cells but may lack one or more of the cells.Wings with a discal cell, or without a discal cell; without a sub-apical cell.The anal cell very short and closed. The costa has one break which is at the end of the sub-costa. The sub-costa is apparent (faint) and joins vein 1 well short of the costa, or terminates before it (vein Sc complete or incomplete, apically ending in vein R1 (Agromyzinae) or separate from vein R1 but reduced to a fold that may or may not reach the costa (Phytomyzinae)); . Wing vein 4 extending far beyond the end of the first basal cell. Wing vein 6 present; falling short of the wing margin. Wing venation is shown in the gallery.

The abdomen is moderately long and consists of six segments and with a coating of short pubescence well developed at some places.The female has an elongated telescopic ovipositor, which in the resting position is retracted into the elongated tergite 7, often called the ovipositor. (Female with oviscape, non retractable basal segment of the ovipositor).

Here is a tutorial [1]

The egg is oval-shaped, white or yellowish. The larva is apodous, cylindrical and tapering at both ends. The length of the last instar larva is, as a rule, in the order of 2–3 mm. The tracheal system is metapneustic in the first instar early age and amphipneustic in the subsequent stages. The pupa is variable, from barrel shaped, to a more elongated shape. The outer surface can segmentation and is more or less smooth or wrinkled. The color varies from black to brown to yellowish white.


Melanagromyza sp. ovipositing on Anthriscus sylvestris

Agromyzidae larvae are phytophagous, feeding as leaf miners, less frequently as stem miners or stem borers. A few live on developing seeds, or produce galls.Sometimes larvae in roots or under bark. The biology of many species is as yet unknown. There is a high degree of host specificity, an example being Phytomyza ilicis, the holly leaf miner that feeds on no other species. Some Agromyzidae are quarantine species in many countries. Liriomyza huidobrensis, Liriomyza sativae and Liriomyza trifolii are examples

A number of species attack plants of agricultural or ornamental value, so are considered pests.These insects are very important to agronomy by the direct damage that they cause, particularly on young plants, the leaf of which may, for example, be completely destroyed. By their nutritional bites females of some species are able to inoculate pathogenic fungi, or to transmit viruses. About 10% of the species of Agromyzidae are considered pests. The most important pest genera are Agromyza, Melanagromyza, Ophiomyia, Liriomyza, Napomyza and Phytomyza.

For examples of pest species see Asparagus miner (Ophiomyia simplex),Chromatomyia horticola, Serpentine leaf miner (Liriomyza brassicae).

Some 110 species are known to occur on cultivated plants. A number of species are of particular importance, especially Liriomyza and Ophiomyia species. Species belonging to the genera Liriomyza or Phytomyza larvae are extremely polyphagous.

A very long imaginal aestivation and hibernation period is a very uncommon overwintering strategy among agromyzid flies.

The shape of the mine is often characteristic of the species and therefore useful for identification. Adults occur in a variety of habitats, depending on the larval host plants.

Species lists[edit]


Morphological similarity makes identification difficult.DNA barcoding is increasingly used to identify species.


  • Kenneth A. Spencer Handbooks for the identification of British Insects Vol 10 Part 5g. Diptera, Section (g) Agromyzidae. Royal Entomological Society of London pdf
  • Kenneth A. Spencer Agromyzidae (Diptera) of Economic importance Series Entomologica. Volume 9. Dr. W. Junk bv The Hague. D. Gld. 110.-. xii + 418 p.

Extract Google Books

  • Darvas, B., M. Skuhravá and A. Andersen, 2000. Agricultural dipteran pests of the palaearctic region. In: László Papp and Béla Darvas (eds), Contributions to a manual of palaearctic Diptera (with special reference to flies of economic importance), Volume 1. General and applied dipterology, Science Herald, Budapest: 565-650.
  • Dempewolf, M.,2004 Arthropods of Economic Importance - Agromyzidae of the World Hybrid CD Mac and Windows CD ISBN 907500057X
  • Frick, K. E., 1952. A generic revision of the family Agromyzidae (Diptera) with a catalogue of New World species. University of California Publications in Entomology 8: 339-452. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
  • Spencer, K. A., 1987. Agromyzidae. In: J. F. McAlpine, B. V. Peterson, G. E. Shewell, H. J. Teskey, J. R. Vockeroth and D. M. Wood (eds): Manual of Nearctic Diptera 2. (Research Branch Agriculture Canada, Monograph 28); Minister of Supply and Services Canada: 869-879.
  • K. G. V. Smith, 1989 An introduction to the immature stages of British Flies. Diptera Larvae, with notes on eggs, puparia and pupae.Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects Vol 10 Part 14. pdf download manual (two parts Main text and figures index)
  • Braun, M. R., Almeida-Neto, M., Loyola, R. D., Prado, A.P. & Lewinsohn, T. M. "New Host-Plant Records for Neotropical Agromyzids (Diptera: Agromyzidae) from Asteraceae Flower Heads"

Biology literature[edit]












  1. ^ Nello schema di McAlpine, i Clusiidae sono in relazione con il genere Acartophthalmus, che secondo l'analisi cladistica di Buck (2006) va collocato nel clade dei Carnoidea. Vedi Acartophthalmidae.

External links[edit]

on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site