The Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor) is an agriculturally important pest of wheat. A mariner element (Desmar1) has been previously identified in the Hessian fly genome. Using Desmar1 as a probe, we isolated individual copies of Desmar-like elements from the Hessian fly genome cloned in bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) and studied their structural variability and flanking DNA sequences. The partial Desmar-like copies are relatively more abundant (∼64%) than full length copies (∼36%) in the Hessian fly genome. Most of the full length copies are consistently flanked by an EcoRI restriction site that occurs 32 bp from one end and 66 bp from the other end of the mariner. Using an amplified fragment length polymorphism-PCR (AFLP-PCR) based method, we identified segregating polymorphisms associated with Desmar elements in a F2 mapping population. We were able to use the segregation data to localize the chromosomal position of three Desmar elements by linkage analysis. As paternal chromosomes are eliminated in the Hessian fly during early embryogenesis, two-thirds of the AFLPs were expected to be polymorphic in the mapping population and this was observed for AFLPs anchored to full length Desmar copies but not to the partial copies. Thus, our data indicate that dead and partial Desmar-like copies are probably associated with less polymorphic regions and may represent mariner graveyards in the Hessian fly genome.