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Goatsbeard aphidOn this page: Identification & Distribution Biology & Ecology
Identification & Distribution:Adult apterae of Brachycaudus tragopogonis are shining grey-brown to dark brown, although a dense colony appears black. The cross bands are often divided spinally as well as intersegmentally into paired pleural patches. The siphunculi are 0.05-0.06 times as long as the body length and 1.2-1.5 times as long as the cauda. The cauda is helmet-shaped. The body length of Brachycaudus tragopogonis apterae is 1.4-2.3 mm.
The extent of dorsal abdominal sclerotization on both the aptera and the alate is variable. Some are rather heavily sclerotized, whilst others are less so - especially anteriorly - see pictures of adult apterae in alcohol below.
The picture below shows an alate in alcohol.
Brachycaudus tragopogonis lives all year round on the stem and leaves of Tragopogon (goatsbeard) species with no host alternation. Oviparae and winged males appear in autumn. The species is found in southern Britain and over much of Europe, and has been introduced to South America.
Biology & Ecology:
We have found this species in Britain several times on naturalized purple salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) (see picture below), but not so far on any of the native Tragopogon species.
The picture below shows a heavily sclerotized adult aptera of Brachycaudus tragopogonis.
In some years quite large populations have been found on the purple salsify at Rye Harbour nature reserve in East Sussex. One of the aphids in the picture below is very lightly sclerotized.
Brachycaudus tragopogonis adults often have a circle of white wax around their posteriors, much like Brachycaudus lychnidis.
Brachycaudus tragopogonis colonies produce copious amounts of honeydew (see picture below).
Not surprisingly they are frequently attended by ants consuming the sugar-rich liquid, as in the colony below.
Ozdemir (2008) recorded the ant species Formica glauca, Plagiolepis pallescens and Lasius alienus attending Brachycaudus tragopogonis in Ankara Province in Turkey.