This update has been provided by the project team at cesar.

Project overview

Led by research provider cesar, the research, development and extension program for the control, eradication and preparedness for vegetable leafminer (MT16004) is constantly developing and innovating to come up with new ways to protect the biosecurity of our industry.

The vegetable leafminer (Liriomyza sativae, VLM) is a small polyphagous fly that lays eggs within the leaves and stems of plants. Maggots then tunnel throughout to create mines or tracks that only increase in size as they grow.

First detected in 2015 at the tip of Cape York in Queensland, VLM represents a substantial threat to vegetable and nursery industries, and this project is vital in raising awareness and educating industry on the best way to resist and manage its entry and spread.

To learn more about this project and see the damage these flies can have, take a look at this project overview.

What’s new?

Project member Dr James Maino has developed a new interactive web tool to map key areas across Australia that are most at risk for the entrance of this pest.

The tool uses weather conditions to predict potential VLM activity so that you can explore expected population growth at any time of the year and compare how the predictions line up with regional production values of ‘at risk’ crops.

Combining weather data and insect data in its simplest form, this tool simulates a biologically accurate fly and puts it in different climates to see how quickly it grows.

Dr Maino said the tool was an exciting development for the industry.

“This pest forecasting tool will help Australian biosecurity by highlighting high risk areas and seasons for surveillance prioritisation,” Dr Maino said.

“It will also help Australian growers by highlighting the regions, crops, and seasons that are most at risk from vegetable leafminer impacts if it were to establish here.”

This tool is already being used within the project to direct awareness raising activities and give greatest focus to the highest risk areas.

To access this tool, head to the cesar website.

Gaining feedback on this tool is really important! Check out the tool, and if you have any comments about its functionality or ideas for how it could be more useful – please get in touch.

Contact Dr Elia Pirtle from cesar at or on 0414 143 456.

This post appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 2 April 2019. Subscribe to the Update using our online form to receive the latest industry news in your inbox every week!

The strategic levy investment project RD&E program for control, eradication and preparedness for vegetable leafminer (MT16004) is a part of the Hort Innovation Vegetable and Nursery Funds. This project has been funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable and nursery research and development levies and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.