The alfalfa blotch leafminer, Agromyza frontella (Rondani), typically develops through three complete generations a year. It overwinters as a partially developed pupa that completes its development in mid-May. Three distinct adult flight periods occur: mid-May to mid-June, late June to late July, and early to late August. Eggs are deposited singly in alfalfa leaflets beneath the lower epidermis and on hatching, the larvae move toward the upper leaflet surface where they feed on the mesophyll and develop through three instars to form blotch mines, each representing about 27% of the leaflet area. The mature larvae emerge from the mines and drop to the soil to form light brown puparia, mainly in the top 2.5 cm of soil.
Duration of each stage decreased with rise in temperature up to 25° but none of the stages survived 30°C. Developmental rates plotted against temperature gave highly correlated linear relationships for all stages. The theoretical threshold for the egg, larva, and pupa was 7°, 3°, and 4°C, respectively; thermal requirements for these stages were 55, 123, and 333°D, respectively.
Survival of the larvae was higher in leaflets with solitary mines than in those with multiple mines; only 25% of the leaflets with two mines gave rise to two mature larvae. Three larvae seldom survived in a single leaflet.