Phytomyza rufipes Meigen larva Cabbage leaf miner

This generally abundant species is a minor pest of brassica crops, including broccoli, cauliflower, mustard and oilseed rape. Attacked seedlings may become malformed, especially if the larval mines extend into the stems, but damage caused to established plants is usually of little or no significance. Infestations on autumn-sprouting broccoli (= calabrese) can be troublesome, and the presence of larvae in crops sent for processing sometimes leads to the rejection of consignments. In the autumn, the pest is sometimes abundant on oilseed rape, but the larvae tend to occur in the senescing outer leaves and damage caused is unimportant.


Adults occur from May or June to September. Eggs are laid in leaves of suitable hosts, each placed close to a major vein. Larvae commence feeding by burrowing into nearby veins that they then follow into the mid-rib. Most feeding occurs within the mid-rib or petiole with, often, several larvae attacking the same leaf. Larvae in young plants may also enter the stem. Pupation usually occurs in the soil and adults appear approximately 6-8 weeks after eggs were laid. There are two generations annually and, under favourable conditions, a partial third.


Adult mainly grey with sides of thorax yellow; wings 2.5-3.5 mm long. Larva up to 6 mm long, shiny white and maggot-like (Plate 8d); mouth-hooks set more or less at right-angles to rest of mouthparts; anterior spiracles short but prominent and many-lobed; posterior spiracles with up to 30 minute pores and directed more or less downwards (cf. Scaptomyza flava, p. 185). Puparium 3 mm long, pale brownish-yellow.

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