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