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Brachycaudus helichrysi

Leaf-curling plum aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution Other aphids on the same host

Identification & Distribution:

The adult aptera of Brachycaudus helichrysi (see first picture below) is variable in colour, ranging from yellow to green to pink to white, often shiny with a slight wax dusting. Their antennae are shorter than the body with dusky tips. The dorsum of the abdomen is without a black shield. Their siphunculi are pale, tapered and short - 0.8-2.0 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is pale, short and blunt. The body length of Brachycaudus helichrysi apterae is 0.9 - 2.0mm.

The alate Brachycaudus helichrysi (see second picture above) has a dark dorsal abdominal patch, with 13-46 secondary rhinaria on the third antennal segment and 0-18 on the fourth. The characteristic galled leaves of blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) are shown in the first picture below, with a micrograph of an adult aptera in alcohol in the second picture below.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Brachycaudus helichrysi (on primary host) : wingless, and winged.

Micrographs of clarified mounts by permission of Roger Blackman, copyright AWP all rights reserved.

The leaf-curling plum aphid host alternates between various plum (Prunus) species (especially domestic plum and blackthorn) and a wide range of Asteraceae such as asters, chrysanthemums, yarrow and groundsel. Brachycaudus helichrysi populations on red clover (Trifolium pratense) have been called var warei, but are not thought sufficiently distinct to warrant subspecific status. This aphid is a serious pest on fruit trees causing the leaves to roll up tightly perpendicular to their mid-rib (see second picture above).


Other aphids on same host:


Our particular thanks to Roger Blackman for images of his clarified slide mounts.

Whilst we make every effort to ensure that identifications are correct, we cannot absolutely warranty their accuracy. We have mostly made 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).

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