Pegomyia cunicularia

Pegomyia cunicularia (Rondani)

(Also known as Pegomyia mixta Villeneuve, and sometimes confused with Pegomyia betae Curtis, which produces galleries in beet leaves).

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Holometabola, Diptera, Brachycera, Anthomyiidae.

Common name: Sugar-beet fly.

Geographical distribution: This pest occurs in North Europe, South Europe, East Asia and the Middle East.

Host plants: Beet (Beta vulgaris L.) and other members of the family Chenopodiaceae.

Morphology: Adults about 5-7 mm in length with a dark-grey body, a silvery head and dark-yellow legs. The maggot is 8 mm long, whitish to pale green in color.

Economic importance: The mining of the pest in the leaves of young beet plants causes large empty spots (“blotches”) that may occupy an entire leaf, often containing several maggot. In Europe the fly is an economic pest in the spring, whereas in the Middle East, where it is of minor importance, only in the autumn.

Life cycle: Development of the pest is restricted to the cooler, autumn-winter-spring months, with the peak of infestation occurring in March. The eggs are deposited in batches of 3–8, and the maggots bore in the leaves in groups, forming blotches.


Horticultural control: Infestation of sugar beets was greatly reduced when this crop was intercropped with bean, cabbage and maize plants.

Chemical control: Avermectin and a pyrethroid were very effective in reducing pest numbers.

Biological control: In various regions the pest is attacked by the braconid endoparasitoid Opius nitidulator (Nees). In Egypt some Coccinellidae and Chrysoperla carnea prey on P. cunicularia. Other enemies include the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (Bals.) Vuillemin. Entomopathogenic nematodes killed the pupae in the soil and developed within their bodies, reducing the larval populations in sugar beet leaves by 76-81%.


Abdel-Moniem, A.S.H., Abdel-Raheem, M.A. and El-Kholy, M.Y. 2014. Biological and ecological studies on the sugar-beet fly, Pegomyia mixta Vill. (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) on sugar-beet in Egypt. Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection 47: 1557–1562.

El-Dessouki, S.A., EI-Awady, S.M., El-Khawass, K.A.M.H., Mesbah, A.H. and El-Dessouki, W.A.A. 2014. Population fluctuation of some insect pests infesting sugar beet and the associated predatory insects at Kafr El-Sheikh Governorate. Annals of Agricultural Science 59: 119–123.

El-Fakharany, S.K.M., Samy, M.A. Ahmed, S.A. and Khattab, M.A. 2012. Effect of intercropping maize, bean, cabbage and toxicants on the population levels of some insect pests and associated predators in sugar beet plantations. The Journal of Basic & Applied Zoology 1: 21-28.

Michelsen, V. 1980. A revision of the beet leaf-miner complex, Pegomya hyoscyami (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). Insect Systematics & Evolution 11: 297-309. ·

Saleh, M.M., Draz, K.A., Mansour, M.A., Hussein, M.A. and Zawrah, M.F. 2011. Controlling the sugar beet fly Pegomyia mixta Vill. with entomopathogenic nematodes. Communications in Agriculture and Applied Biological Science 76:297-305.

Sherief, E.A.H., Said, A.A.A., Shaheen, F.A.H and Fouad, H.A.M. 2013. Population fluctuation of certain pests and their associated predator insects on sugar beet in Sharkia Governorate, Egypt. Egyptian Journal of Agricultural Research 91: 139-150.

Steyskal, G.C. 1969. The anatomy and taxonomy of the beet leaf miner of Egypt and Cyprus, Pegomya mixta (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). 63: 300–307.

Zaki, F.N. and Abdel-Raheem, M.A. 2010. Use of entomopathogenic fungi and insecticide against some insect pests attacking peanuts and sugarbeet in Egypt. Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection 43: 1819–1828.