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Cinara cupressi

Cypress aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

Cinara cupressi apterae are mainly orange brown to yellowish brown, with a blackish markings diverging back from the thorax. In life the dorsum is dusted with pale grey wax making a pattern of rather interrupted cross-bands. The whole aphid is clothed with fine hairs. There is also a rather indistinct blackish band between the black siphuncular cones. The distal parts of the femora and the bases of the tibiae are dusky or dark. The body length of Cinara cupressi apterae is 1.8-3.9 mm. The alate is similar in appearance to the apterous viviparae.

A key identification feature of Cinara cupressi is that the distal parts of the femora are dusky. This distinguishes the species from Cinara tujafilina which also occurs on cypress. Also there are only 4-6 hairs on the basal half of antennal segment six. This distinguishes the species from Cinara fresai which has 7-12 hairs in this position.

The micrographs above (dorsal and ventral) show that scleroites are very small or absent on the dorsum. The rostrum is relatively short, although that of the fourth instar nymph (first image below) is longer in relation to body length than that of the adult.

Populations thought to have originated in the Middle East and introduced to Africa (and also the UK) were formerly classified using multivariate analysis as a separate species, Cinara cupressivora (Watson et al., 1999).  Geographical range was generally the most straightforward and accurate way to differentiate Cinara cupressi and Cinara cupressivora, with Britain as the only country where their ranges overlapped. However, recent studies by Remaudiere & Binazzi (2003)  suggest the distinction may not be justified.

Cinara cupressi is found most commonly on cypress (Cupressus spp.) but also occurs on Thuja, Juniperus, Chamaecyparis and Widdringtonia. Oviparae and alate males occur in October in Europe. The cypress aphid is considered to be one of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species according to the criteria used by the international Union for the Conservation of Nature. It occurs in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

 

Biology & Ecology:

In temperate climates, eggs laid on cypress the previous autumn hatch in spring. At this time of year only females are present and they reproduce parthenogenetically (without mating), giving birth to live young. There are two adult forms - winged and wingless. Adults and juveniles are well camouflaged against tree bark.

Numbers build over the summer, but as cooler weather approaches in autumn, both males and females are produced. These mate and the resultant females (oviparae) produce eggs instead of live nymphs. The eggs are laid in rough areas on twigs and foliage where they overwinter. Several generations are produced per year.

In warm regions such as Africa, the aphid does not overwinter as an egg; instead, parthenogenetic reproduction continues all year. This, along with the absence of natural enemies, has allowed cypress aphid populations to increase rapidly in countries where the species has been introduced.

Ants may feed on the honeydew produced by the aphids. They have also been observed transporting the aphids from one part of the tree to another, thus creating new areas of infestation.

 

Damage and control

The cypress aphid can cause severe direct feeding damage resulting in dieback and sometimes death of host conifers with associated economic, environmental and aesthetic costs. The saliva they produce is phytotoxic and leads to necrosis in the phloem which subsequently results in the twig withering (see pictures below). The foliage also gets covered in honeydew and then mould which inhibits photosynthesis.

 

The impact on this on the plant depends on tree stress and weather factors. It is also a vector of Cyprus canker (caused by the fungi Seridium cardinale & Lepteutypa cupress) which have devastated some cypress trees populations.

In Britain the main damage is limited to domestic garden hedges. However, in southern and eastern Africa, the cypress aphid killed a total of US$27.5 million worth of trees in 1991. At that time it was causing a loss in annual growth of US$9.1 million per year (Murphy et al., 1996 ). One tree species which is especially sensitive to feeding by the cypress aphid is Cupressus lusitanica. This species is highly favoured as a plantation species because of its rapid growth rate and excellent form. In Kenya, this species comprises around half of the country's total industrial forest plantation area. Loss of these plantations could have serious effects on Kenya's domestic wood supply. Also, Cupressus lusitanica is a key agroforestry species widely planted for wind-breaks, as a source of fuelwood and as living fences and hedges. In Malawi, the aphid damages the endangered national tree, Widdringtonia nodiflora (Ciesla 1991 ). In Chile affected native forest species include Austrocedrus chilensis and Fitzroya cupressoides (Montalva et al., 2010 ).

Chemical control, for example treatments containing pirimicarb, was initially tried against Cinara cupressi but is only practical for ornamental trees and hedges. Even then it must be done at the first sign of an attack or the damage to the phloem will already have been done. In Africa, various hymenopteran endoparasitoids of the genus Pauesia have been used for the biological control of Cinara cupressivora with varying levels of success (Kairo & Murphy 2005 ). Candidates include Pauesia cupressobii and Pauesia juniperorum which have been found attacking Cinara juniperi. Similarly Pauesia juniperorum has been used in Chile. Efforts are being made to supplement the level of control with other natural enemies including predators and fungi.

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Plumpton College  for their kind assistance, and permission to sample.

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

  •  Ciesla, W.M. (1991). Cypress aphids, Cinara cupressi, a new pest of conifers in eastern and southern Africa. FAO Plant Protection Bulletin 39 (2-3), 82-93. Abstract 

  •  Kairo, M.T. & Murphy, S.T. (2005). Comparative studies on populations of Pauesia juniperorum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a biological control agent for Cinara cupressivora (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Bulletin of Entomological Research. 95 (6): 597-603.Abstract 

  •  Montalva, C. et al. (2010). El pulgon del cipres en Chile: una revision de la situacion actual y antecedents del control biologico. Bosque 31 (2), 81-88. Full text 

  •  Murphy, S.T.et al. (1996). Status and impact of invasive conifer pests in Africa. pp. 289-297 in Nair, K.S.S.. et al.(eds.) Impact of diseases and insect pests in tropical forests. Proceedings of the IUFRO Symposium, Peechi, India, 23-26 November 1993.Abstract 

  •  Remaudiere, G. & Binazzi, A. (2003). Les Cinara du Pakistan. II. Le sous-genre Cupressobium (Hemiptera, Aphidinae, Lachninae). Revue francaise d'entomologie 25 (2), 85-96.Abstract 

  •  Watson, G. W.et al. (1999). Biogeography of the Cinara cupressi complex (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on Cupressaceae, with description of a pest species introduced into Africa. Bulletin of Entomological Research 89 (3): 271-283.Abstract