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Chaitophorus aphids are very hairy, small to medium-sized aphids with short, stump-shaped siphunculi. The dorsal cuticle of the apterae is often largely sclerotized. Alates often have dark segmental cross-bands and marginal sclerites. The cauda is usually knobbed.

There are about 90 species of Chaitophorus aphids worldwide with individual species feeding on either Populus (poplar) or Salix (willow) spp. in the Salicaceae.


Chaitophorus capreae (Pale sallow leaf aphid)

Chaitophorus capreae apterae are white to yellowish-white (see first picture below). The body is not markedly narrow with the body length 1.8-2.1 times the maximum body width (this characteristic distinguishes Chaitophorus capreae from Chaitophorus horii beuthani which is narrower and occurs on narrow-leaved Salix species). The dorsum and appendages bear numerous capitate hairs (see second picture below). The cauda has a distinctly knobbed apex. The body length of Chaitophorus capreae is 0.8-1.9 mm. Neither the apterae nor the alates have any distinct dark dorsal abdominal markings.

The pale sallow leaf aphid lives mostly on sallows (broad-leaved Salix spp.) especially great sallow (Salix caprea) and grey sallow (Salix cinerea). Aphids are usually scattered on the undersides of leaves and are not attended by ants. Oviparae and yellow apterous males occur in October-November. Chaitophorus capreae is widespread in Europe, and eastward to Central Asia.

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Chaitophorus horii beuthani (Pale willow leaf aphid)

Adult apterae of Chaitophorus horii ssp. beuthani are whitish to pale yellow. The body is rather long and narrow, with the body length 2.1-2.5 times the maximum width. Antennal segment III has only 0-4 hairs, the longest of which are only 5-20 μm long. Abdominal tergites 1-5 each have 12-30 smaller accessory hairs between the long spinal, pleural and marginal pairs. The cauda has a distinctly knobbed apex.

Alatae (not shown here) have black dorsal abdominal cross-bands.

Chaitophorus horii ssp. beuthani lives on the underside of the leaves of narrow-leaved willow such as Salix viminalis and Salix fragilis. It usually feeds from the leaf midrib.

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Chaitophorus leucomelas (Black poplar leaf aphid)

Adult apterae of Chaitophorus leucomelas are elongate oval in shape and vary from green to yellow. The dark dorsal markings are rather variable. The adults usually have two dark stripes along the sides (sometimes divided segmentally) which tend to merge on the fifth abdominal tergites as can be seen in the first picture below. Alternatively the stripes may be missing. Whatever the pattern there are (nearly) always broad pale spinal and marginal areas. The antennae are half as long as the body of the aphid, with the terminal process of the sixth antennal segment 2.7-3.3 times the base of that segment. The short truncate siphunculi are dark at least apically. The cauda is rounded and very pale. The body length of Chaitophorus leucomelas ranges from 1.2 to 2.4 mm.

Chaitophorus leucomelas alates have dark brown dorsal abdominal cross-bands and separate marginal sclerites visible in the second image above.

The host plant of Chaitophorus leucomelas in Europe is mainly black poplar (Populus nigra) and related species and hybrids, but in North America a wider range of species is colonised. They feed on young shoots of Populus spp. in spring, and later under leaves, in leaves stuck together by moth larvae, or in leaf galls vacated by other insects. It is commonly ant-attended. Chaitophorus leucomelas is widely distributed in Europe, North Africa and Asia, and has been introduced to South Africa and North and South America.

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Chaitophorus populeti (Poplar shoot aphid)

Adult Chaitophorus populeti apterae are oval, shiny dark green to black. There is sometimes a paler stripe along the midline of the thorax and the front of the abdomen. There are separate bands on the pre- and mesonotum and abdominal tergites 7-8. The antennae are more than half the length of the body. The terminal process is about twice the length of the base of the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are dark. The body length of Chaitophorus populeti is 1.5-2.9 mm.

Chaitophorus populeti alates (see second picture above) are dark green to black with broad brown dorsal abdominal cross-bands and marginal plates. The wing veins are brown-shadowed.

The poplar shoot aphid lives on the young shoots and terminal leaf petioles of various poplar (Populus) species, especially of the aspen (Populus tremula) and white poplar (Populus alba). It is usually attended by ants. Oviparae and males occur in October-November. Chaitophorus populeti is found throughout the Palaearctic region.

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Chaitophorus populialbae (Poplar leaf aphid)

Adult Chaitophorus populialbae apterae are small, short-bodied, oval, greenish to yellowish white, often with small green spots (see first picture below). The head and tips of antennal segments and tarsi are light brown. The antennae are 0.6-0.9 times the length of the body, and the terminal process is 1.7-3.3 times as long as the base of the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are pale. The body length of Chaitophorus populialbae is 1.0-2.3 mm.

The alate (see second picture above) has the head, thorax and antennae black, and the abdomen green with dark brown cross-bands, often with bands coalescing on abdominal tergites 2-6.

Poplar leaf aphids live in (usually) small colonies on undersides of leaves of various Poplars (Populus spp.) and are sometimes ant-attended. Oviparae and males occur in September-November. Chaitophorus populialbae occur throughout the Palaearctic region, parts of Africa, and are introduced and widespread in North America.

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Chaitophorus salicti (Sallow leaf-vein aphid)

Adult Chaitophorus salicti apterae in spring are black with a pale spinal stripe in spring, but in summer (see pictures below) are light yellowish-green with reddish-brown or greyish-black dorsal markings. Blackish specimens have a cuticular sculpture of fine wavy lines, with less conspicuous small spines than Chaitophorus niger and only rarely forming a few localized reticulations on the mesonotum and pleura of some abdominal tergites. The last two fused rostral segments (RIV+V) are 1.1 to 1.6 times the length of the second hind tarsal segment (HT2). The siphunculi are dusky or dark, and are sometimes surrounded by a membranous ring, at other times fused solidly into the dorsal carapace. Chaitophorus salicti is a small species with the body length of apterae only 1.3-1.8 mm.

The alates are dark, with broad dorsal abdominal cross-bands.

Sallow leaf-vein aphids live along the veins on the underside of leaves of various Sallows (Salix caprea, Salix cinerea, Salix aurita). Unlike the other Chaitophorus commonly occurring on sallows (Chaitophorus capreae ), they are usually ant-attended. Oviparae and apterous males occur in September-October. Chaitophorus salicti occur throughout the Palaearctic region, parts of Africa, and are introduced and widespread in North America.

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Chaitophorus salijaponicus niger (Dark willow leaf aphid)

Adult apterae of Chaitophorus salijaponicus niger are usually blackish-brown with a pale ring around the bases of the siphunculi (see first picture below). Abdominal tergites 1-6 or 2-6 are fused into a solid carapace. The dorsal cuticle is sculptured with wavy lines of small bead-like or denticular spinules that tend to form reticulations in the mid-thoracic and anterior abdominal region. The antennae, legs and cauda are mainly pale.

Alates (see second picture above) are dark, with broad dorsal abdominal cross-bands. Nymphs are wine red with a yellowish suffusion around the siphunculi. The second picture above shows a Chaitophorus salijaponicus niger alate - the body is fairly uniformly dark, but the pale legs and antennae are useful distinguishing features.

Dark willow leaf aphids live separately or in small colonies on leaves of willow (narrow-leaved Salix spp.), only rarely visited by ants. Oviparae and males occur in September-November. Whether males are apterous or alate seems to depend on geographical location. Chaitophorus salijaponicus niger are found in Europe and across Asia to Siberia, but are replaced by a different subspecies in China and Japan.

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Chaitophorus tremulae (Aspen leaf aphid)

Chaitophorus tremulae apterae are elongate oval with the dorsum solidly blackish sclerotic, rather densely sculptured with denticular spinules, and very often with a paler line along the mid-dorsum (see first picture below). Except in the fundatrix, abdominal tergite 1 is more or less completely fused with the carapace on tergites 2-6. The antennae are usually dark and half the length of the body, and the terminal process is 2.1-2.8 times as long as the base of the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are dark and the legs are brown with the hind pair darker. The body length of Chaitophorus tremulae is 1.2-2.5 mm.

Alates have very broad black dorsal abdominal cross-bands which tend to coalesce. Immature Chaitophorus tremulae are bright green.

Aspen leaf aphids live in small colonies on undersides of leaves of Aspen (Populus tremula) and a few related species of Populus. They have also been found in leaves spun together by other insects, or in leaf-nest galls made by another group of aphids (Pemphiginae). Oviparae and alate males occur in October. Chaitophorus tremulae occurs throughout Europe and as subspecies in the Far East.

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Chaitophorus truncatus (Green willow leaf aphid)

Chaitophorus truncatus apterae are elongate oval in shape. In spring they are pale green with three darker green interrupted longitudinal stripes. In early summer and autumn some are solidly blackish on the dorsum. Their antennae are half the length of the body, and the terminal process is 2.2-3.2 times as long as the base of the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are pale, as are the legs and antennae. The body length of Chaitophorus truncatus is 1.2-2.4 mm.

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Chaitophorus truncatus alates have separate, narrow, often broken bars across abdominal segments 3-8.

The green willow leaf aphid lives in small colonies on leavers of various narrow leaved willows including Salix purpurea, Salix amygdalina, Salix alba and Salix triandra. Apterous males and oviparae can be found in autumn. Chaitophorus truncatus does not host alternate, and is not ant attended. It is distributed throughout Europe and east to Iran and Kazakhstan.


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 


  •  Dixon, A.F.G. & Thieme, T. (2007). Aphids on deciduous trees. Naturalist's Handbooks 29. Richmond

  •  Stroyan, H.L.G. (1977). Homoptera: Aphidoidea (Part) - Chaitophoridae and Callaphidae. Handbooks for the identification of British insects. 2 (4a) Royal Entomological Society of London. Full text 


Identification requests

David Fenwick, 4 August 2013, [salix aphid]

[I] might have to keep an eye on this one, fortunately it's local, just passed Marazion, will also ID the Salix when I'm next over there, don't think it is S. alba but definately one of the softer elongated leaf species rather than rounder leathery ones.

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Bob, Influentialpoints:

  • Haven't come across this one before, but I think it's probably Chaitophorus vitellinae. If you get it again, I would greatly apprecate a live sample (just in a small plastic box + a bit of foodplant), so I can include it on the ID page.


    5 August 2013

    Slight cock up - your willow aphid was Chatophorus truncatus, not C. vitellinae.

    C. vitellinae lives on young shoots & twigs, rather than on the leaves as your one does.

Just received the correction for the willow aphid, Chaitophorus truncatus.