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Cinara cuneomaculata

Brown larch aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution  Biology & Ecology  Damage & Control 

Identification & Distribution:

Adult apterae of Cinara cuneomaculata are darkish brown to orange-reddish (see two pictures below), sometimes with dark green segmental markings. There is usually a dusting of greyish wax powder on the ventral surface of adults which may (rarely) extend as stripes on to the dorsum of the abdomen. Small, hair-bearing sclerites are absent (cf. Cinara laricis  which has numerous small black hair-bearing sclerites). The fourth rostral segment is from 0.15 to 0.25 mm in length (cf. Cinara kochiana  which has the fourth rostral segment 0-29-0.42 mm long). The siphuncular cones are small. The legs have the hind tibiae dark for up to two thirds their length; the femora are mostly dark brown but paler proximally. The body length is 2.4-4.6 mm.

Beware: Cinara cuneomaculata often forms mixed species colonies with Cinara laricis, as illustrated below. 

Alatae (not pictured) are similarly coloured to the apterae. The micrographs below show adult apterae of Cinara cuneomaculata, dorsal and ventral.

Cinara cuneomaculata feed on young twigs and shoots of larch (Larix spp.). The egg laying females (oviparae) occur in October. They are found in Europe excluding Scandinavia and the Iberian peninsula; also in parts of Asia.

 

Biology & Ecology:

Life cycle

The eggs laid on larch the previous year hatch in spring to give the fundatrices. As with Cinara acutirostris, Buchholz & Scheurer (2000)  showed that a period of frost (-5 to -15°C) for several weeks produced a higher ratio of hatching fundatrices than a period where the temperature is around 0°C.

The species forms small colonies on the young twigs and shoots of larch. The earliest we have found them on larch is early May. The picture below shows an adult aptera in early May with a little greyish wax powder extending as a stripe on to the dorsum of the abdomen.

These two images taken in July and September shows groups of young nymphs feeding on the branches. As with many other species, they cluster together when feeding to create a sink effect which improves the flow of nutrients.

 

Alatae seem to be unusually scarce, although Carter & Maslen, 1982  report finding them in a brief period between June to mid-July, both on the host and in suction traps. We have found what appear to be brachypterous forms late in the year.

Carter & Maslen, 1982  reported finding dark brown oviparae with darker sclerotized blotches and no pericaudal wax ring. The latter observation appears to be in error as we have regularly found light brown/reddish-brown oviparae of this species with marked pericaudal wax rings.

 

Competition/coexistencee

As well as feeding in aggregations of its own species, Cinara cuneomaculata can often be found in multispecies aggregations.

The aphid in the centre of the picture above with a pericaudal wax ring is an ovipara of Cinara cuneomaculata, whilst the other aphids around the ovipara belong to a different species of larch aphid - Cinara laricis. 

 

Ant attendance

Binazzi & Scheurer (2009)  report that this species is independent from ant attendance, but we have found that ants are usually present.

In the picture above, taken in late August, a southern wood ant (Formica rufa) is stroking an old viviparous female to promote honeydew production. The copious honeydew crystallizes to Lärchenmanne which is highly regarded by beekeepers in central Europe.

In the image above the ant has taken up its defensive posture with its abdomen swung forward ready to spray formic acid against any perceived threat.

 

Natural enemies

We have so far not observed any predation on this species (possibly because of protection by the ants), but at least one species of parasitoid is often present. The first image shows a parasitized aphid known as a 'mummy'.

The adult braconid parasitoid which emerged from this mummy is shown below.

Our identification is a little uncertain but this appears to be Pauesia pini, a species recorded as parasitizing both of the larch species of Cinara (Wiaçkowski et al., 2001. )

 

Damage and control

We are not aware of any work quantifying the effects of infestation by this species on the timber yield of larch, but it seems safe to assume that foresters regard this aphid as harmful, and beekepers see it as beneficial! Börner & Franz (1956) reported that dense 'overpopulated' colonies caused a local yellowing of the foliage.

Acknowledgements

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

  •  Binazzi, A. & Scheurer, S. (2009). Atlas of the honeydew producing conifer aphids of Europe. Aracne. 132 pp. Introduction 

  •  Blackman, R. L. & Eastop, V.F. (2006). Aphids on the World's Herbaceous Plants and Shrubs. Vols 1 & 2. J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK. Full text 

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

  •  Börner, C. & Franz, H. (1956). Die Blattläuse des Nordostalpengebietes und seines vorlandes. Ost. zool. Z. 6, 297-411.

  •  Buchholz, S. & Scheurer, S. (2000). The influence of the length of frosty periods on emergence of fundatrices of selected Cinarinae (Sternorrhyncha, Lachnidae). Entomologica Brasiliensia 22, 143-147. Abstract 

  •  Carter, C.R. & Maslen, N.R. (1982). Conifer Lachnids. Forestry Commission Bulletin No. 58, 75pp.

  •  Heie, O.E. (1980-1995). The Aphidoidea, Hemiptera, of Fennoscandia and Denmark. (Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica) E.J. Brill, London

  •  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 

  •  Stroyan, H.L.G. (1984). Aphids - Pterocommatinae and Aphidinae (Aphidini). Handbooks for the identification of British insects. 2(6) Royal Entomological Society of London.

  •  Wiaçkowski, S.K. et al. (2001). Aphid parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Aphididae) of Central and Southern Poland. Wiad. entomol. 20 (1-2), 57-65.Full text