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Caricosipha paniculatae

Stalk-eyed sedge aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Caricosipha paniculatae (see pictures below) are yellowish or reddish with brown sclerotic patches or sometimes completely black dorsally. The antennae, legs, and siphunculi are all pale, as are the eye stalks which bear the prominent compound eyes. The hairs on antennal segment III are up to about 5 times as long as the basal diameter of that segment. The body is flattened and pear-shaped, broadest about the level of abdominal tergite 4 - and the head and pronotum are fused, as are abdominal tergites l-7. The body has many long, black, pointed hairs. The siphunculi are palish, smooth, truncate conical or stump-shaped. The cauda is slightly knobbed.

First image copyright Stéphane Claerebout, all rights reserved. Second image copyright Wieczorek et al. (2017)   under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Alatae have the dorsal carapace broken into segmental dark bars and marginal sclerites, and the body hairs shorter and thinner than in apterae.

Caricosipha paniculatae feeds on sedges (Carex sp.), especially Carex paniculata. There is no host alternation. This species is found throughout Europe.

 

Biology & Ecology

Stalk-eyed sedge aphids live in dense colonies on the upperside of leaves. If disturbed, they run about very fast until the disturbance ceases. This is an unusual predator escape strategy for an aphid - crypsis, or aposematism, or just dropping off the plant are more common approaches.

Image copyright Stéphane Claerebout, all rights reserved.

Their escape strategy may explain the extraordinary stalked eyes. Extending the eye away from the body gives the eye a better field of vision. This will improve the speed at which an aphid will be able to detect a predator - and start running!

 

Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 5 species of aphid  as feeding on greater tussock-sedge (Carex paniculata) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists all 5 as occurring in Britain: Allaphis producta, Caricosipha paniculatae, Ceruraphis eriophori, Schizaphis caricis and Vesiculaphis theobaldi.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Willem Ellis, bladmineerders.nl,  for sending us the pictures of this extraordinary aphid, and to Stéphane Claerebout for permission to use the pictures.

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 

References

  •  Wieczorek, K., Lachowska-Cierlik D., Kajtoch L., Kanturski M. (1997). (2017) The relationships within the Chaitophorinae and Drepanosiphinae (Hemiptera, Aphididae) inferred from molecular-based phylogeny and comprehensive morphological data. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173608. Full text.