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Aphis verbasci

Mullein aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution  Biology & Ecology 

Identification & Distribution:

Adult apterae of Aphis verbasci are bright golden-yellow to pale-green and slightly wax-powdered. The apical rostral segment is very narrow, only slightly tapering and about 3.5-5.0 times as long as its basal width. Bands may occur on tergites 7-8, but may be absent. There is also a pair or irregular dark pleural sclerites on tergite 5 in front of the siphuncular bases - these are just visible in the two adult apterae in picture below, but are clearer in older adults. The black siphunculi are rather heavily built, strongly tapering and usually with a distinct outward curvature at the extreme base. The cauda of Aphis verbasci is short and tapering.

Images copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

Aphis verbasci alates have marginal sclerites on tergites 2-4, postsiphuncular sclerites, strong bands across tergites 7-8 and a small irregular median sclerite on tergite 6.

The mullein aphid lives under basal leaves of mullein (Verbascum spp.) and of buddleia (Buddleja spp.). Oviparae and wingless males have been recorded in October. Aphis verbasci is found in Europe east into Russia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Northern India.


Biology & Ecology:

Very large populations of this aphid can build up on the undersides of the basal leaves, and these may be attacked by a variety of predators and parasitoids. A coccinellid larva is visible on the colony shown in the second picture above, and the picture below shows numerous parasitized mummies.

Image copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved

Kanturski et al. (2014)  described the sexual forms of Aphis verbasci, together with notes on the biology of the species. They found numerous colonies on the underside of basal leaves of Verbascum, lying directly on the ground. During summer the aphids produced much honeydew, and the colonies were visited by ants, especially Lasius niger.


We especially thank Dr László Érsek for permission to use several images, above.

We have made provisional identifications from high resolution photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity. In the great majority of cases, identifications have been confirmed by microscopic examination of preserved specimens. We have used the keys and species accounts of Blackman & Eastop (1994)  and Blackman & Eastop (2006)  supplemented with Blackman (1974) , Stroyan (1977) , Stroyan (1984) , Blackman & Eastop (1984) , Heie (1980-1995) , Dixon & Thieme (2007)  and Blackman (2010) . We fully acknowledge these authors as the source for the (summarized) taxonomic information we have presented. Any errors in identification or information are ours alone, and we would be very grateful for any corrections. For assistance on the terms used for aphid morphology we suggest the figure  provided by Blackman & Eastop (2006).

Useful weblinks 


  •  Kanturski, M. et al. (2014). Sexual morphs and biology of Aphis verbasci Schrank (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Zootaxa 3755 (5), 485-490. Abstract