1. Urban environments are fragmented habitats characterised by the presence of physical barriers, which may negatively affect dispersal and colonisation by insect herbivores and their natural enemies. Conversely, plants growing along pavements may function as dispersal corridors, helping to moderate the harmful effects of resource patch isolation on organism movement and population persistence.
2. We experimentally tested the effects of walls as physical barriers to the dispersal of the leaf miner Liriomyza commelinae Frost and colonisation of its host plant, Commelina erecta L., in urban habitats. We also evaluated whether plants along pavements could act as corridors for this species.
3. We exposed experimental host plants to the leaf miner in houses with front gardens and back yards, the latter being completely surrounded by walls. The front gardens had walls but none separating them from the pavement. Previously mined plants were also exposed to parasitoids in the yards to determine parasitoid attack.
4. Liriomyza commelinae took longer to colonise back yards with higher walls, and the abundance of mined plants along pavements reduced the colonisation time. Leaf-miner abundance was marginally affected by the yard type, and was lower in back yards. Cumulative parasitism rates decreased with increasing distance at which mined plants were placed from pavements.
5. Constructions act as physical barriers, having a negative impact on colonisation of host plants by leaf miners. The function of pavements as corridors seems to depend on the abundance of mined plants. Parasitism may be affected by distance from the corridor rather than physical barriers or other potential hosts.