The larvae feed inside the leaves and create long sinuous tunnels that show on the upper leaf surface as white or brown meandering lines. On host plants with small leaves, such as Argyranthemum and Pyrethrum, all of the inside of the leaf may be consumed, so the whole leaf becomes discoloured and dries up.
The adult fly is 2-3mm long and brownish black in colour. The females scrape the leaf surface to feed on exuded sap, which causes small pale spots on the upper leaf surface. The larvae are creamy white legless maggots up to 3-4mm long. The pupal stage is pale brown and the pupae can be found in the leaves at the ends of the mines.
The leaf mines created by the fly's larvae disfigure the leaves and large populations can cause a significant loss of foliage. Plants can be affected in both gardens and greenhouses. The heaviest populations are generally indoors.