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Aphids on common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica)Species Overview: Ovatus inulae Brachycaudus helichrysi Identifying fleabane
Aphids on common fleabane
Blackman & Eastop list about 11 species of aphids as feeding on common fleabane worldwide, and provide formal identification keys for aphids on Pulicaria. Of those, 6 species have been recorded by Baker (2015) as occurring in Britain: Aphis fabae, Aulacorthum solani, Brachycaudus helichrysi, Myzus ornatus, Myzus persicae, and Ovatus inulae.
Note: Bell et al. (2015) (Appendix S2) have also published an "annotated checklist of aphids present in the UK". We discuss some of the reasons for the differences between Baker's and Bell's lists in our rare aphids page.
The two species below are those we have found on fleabane most frequently, listed in rough order of abundance. Only one of these - Ovatus inulae - is (more or less) specific to fleabane. Assistance on identifying the plant, common fleabane is given below.
The Ovatus inulae alate has a pale greeny-yellow abdomen and a brown thorax. Like the aptera,
the last two segments of its rostrum (RIV+V, which are fused) are unusually long - more than 2.2 times longer than the second segment of the hind tarsus.
The Ovatus inulae alate has a pale greeny-yellow abdomen and a brown thorax. Like the aptera, the last two segments of its rostrum (RIV+V, which are fused) are unusually long - more than 2.2 times longer than the second segment of the hind tarsus.
Ovatus inulae lives all year round on common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica). It feeds on the undersides of the leaves and shoot apices, and especially the bases of the flowers. It can also be found on certain Inula and some other Asteraceae species. Sexual forms are produced in the autumn. The species is found throughout Europe into central Asia.
The leaf-curling plum aphid host alternates between various plum (Prunus) species (especially domestic plum and blackthorn) and a wide range of Asteraceae including Pulicaria dysenterica (common fleabane).
We only look at one fleabane species, the common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica) which is native to Europe and western Asia, and is common and widespread in southern England. It is a perennial which is about 60 cm high at maturity and forms dense clusters of plants. Leaves are alternately arranged, densely hairy and clasp the stem. The yellow flowers are composed of a centre of 40-100 disc florets surrounded by 20-30 ray florets.
The name 'fleabane' arises because smoke from burning the plant is reputed to drive away fleas and midges. Chemical investigation of the Pulicaria genus has shown the presence of terpenes, diterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Various biological activity, including antibacterial, antifungal and insecticidal properties, has been reported by Khan & Asghari (2012).