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Hort Innovation News and events Media Releases Serpentine Leafminer detected in Sydney

Serpentine Leafminer detected in Sydney

Publication date: 9 November 2020

THE Serpentine leafminer (SLM; aka pea leafminer; Liriomyza huidobrensis) was found infesting field-grown vegetables in western Sydney in late October 2020 with impact assessments underway.

NSW Dept Primary Industries and Greater Sydney Local Land Services are conducting surveillance to determine the extent of the incursion.

Hort Innovation Biosecurity Research and Development Manager Dr Greg Chandler said, “Serpentine leafminer is listed as number 20 on the list of Australia’s top 40 high priority plant pests. Leafminers are listed as one entry and there are five species in that category, including the serpentine leafminer.”

Hort Innovation’s research, development and extension program for control, eradication and preparedness for vegetable leafminer has been established to bolster preparedness for and protection against the potential spread of vegetable leafminer (Liriomyza sativae), American serpentine leafminer (Liriomyza trifolii) and serpentine leafminer (Liriomyza huidobrensis) through Australian growing regions. The program is a partnership with cesar Australia, AUSVEG, University of Melbourne, Plant Health Australia and Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. 

The project activities include developing information and resources for monitoring, managing and eradicating leafminers. See below.


Dr Greg Chandler said, “Leafminer eggs are laid inside leaf tissue and the larvae eat the inside of the leaf, leaving behind leaf trails. This reduces photosynthetic capacity in the plants and in severe cases causes total yield loss in crops. Like many serious agricultural pests, the serpentine leafminer has developed insecticide resistance overseas and would do the same in Australia, making it even more difficult to control.”

The Serpentine leafminer has several hundred reported hosts from nearly 50 plant families. Some of which include:

  • Brassicaceae (cabbage family)
  • Cucurbitaceae (melon or gourd family)
  • Solanaceae (tomato, potato, chili, and others)
  • Asteraceae (sunflower family including lettuce, chrysanthemum, and sunflowers)
  • Onions
  • Weeds


All growers are encouraged to report any signs of leaf mining in vegetables to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Photos of damage and leafminers can be sent to 

Maria Stathis
Media and Public Affairs Manager
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0447 304 255 Send an email