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Brachycaudus lychnidis species-group

Campion aphids

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

Identification & Distribution:

The dorsal abdomens of adult apterae of Brachycaudus lychnidis species group (Brachycaudus klugkisti and Brachycaudus lychnidis sensu stricto) have an extensive solid shiny black shield (see first picture below) with the underside red-brown. Their median frontal tubercle is about as high as the antennal tubercles. Their antennae are 0.6-0.8 of the body length. Their legs have the fore femora pale with dorsally dark apex; the hind femora are dusky with a pale base and the tibiae are pale with the apex and base dark. Their siphunculi are dark truncated conical, and are 1.2-2.3 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is rounded or semi-oval. They often have a wax ring around the terminal abdominal segments - this is not mentioned in the literature, presumably because such deposits are not apparent in prepared slide specimens.

Alatae (see second picture above) have a large dark dorsal patch covering tergites 3-8, fused with the marginal sclerites. Immatures are often suffused with dark red between and around their siphunculi. The ovipara has the hind tibia distinctly thickened in the middle, and the male is apterous

The two members of the species pair can be distinguished by the number and length of hairs on the third antennal segment, and by the shape of the cauda:

  • Brachycaudus lychnidis has 15-24 hairs on the third antennal segment, the longest of which are 32-53 µm long; the cauda is shorter than its basal width.

  • Brachycaudus klugkisti has 6-15 hairs on the third antennal segment, the longest which are 17-29 µm long; the cauda is about as long as its basal width.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Brachycaudus lychnidis : wingless, and winged. Beware how you interpret these clarified mounts! In the first three mounts the cauda is bent back on itself, and hence points forwards rather than backwards. In the last mount (alate B. klugkisti) the cauda is orientated normally.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Brachycaudus klugkisti : wingless, and winged.

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

The campion aphids Brachycaudus lychnidis and Brachycaudus klugkisti both live all year on red campion (Silene dioica) and related species. A further aphid species, Brachycaudus lychnicola, also has the same host, but lives at the base of the plant. All the aphids we have found on campions have been living on the upper parts of the plant. Oviparae and apterous males are produced in October. Both Brachycaudus lychnidis and Brachycaudus klugkisti are found in Britain and over most of Europe, with the former species extending eastwards to western Siberia.


Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 10 species of aphid  as feeding on red campion (Silene dioica) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 9 as occurring in Britain: Aphis fabae,  Aphis sambuci,  Aphis solanella,  Aulacorthum solani,  Brachycaudus klugkisti, Brachycaudus lychnidis, Myzus ascalonicus,  Myzus cymbalariae  Myzus ornatus  and Myzus persicae. 


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

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).

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