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Clypeoaphis suaedae

Sea-blite aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

Adult Clypeoaphis suaedae apterae are pale olive-green and covered in mealy wax (see pictures below). The terminal process of the sixth antennal segment is slightly shorter than the base of that segment. The antennae of Clypeoaphis suaedae apterae have no secondary rhinaria whilst those of alates have 4-7 on the third antennal segment.

The siphunculi are short, tubular or barrel shaped, much longer than their basal width and with a weak flange (see micrograph below). The cauda is thumb-shaped and longer than the siphunculi; its length is more than twice its basal width and it bears 4-9 hairs. Adult apterae are 1.2-1.6 mm long. The micrograph below is of an aptera in alcohol.

Clypeoaphis suaedae feeds on Chenopodioideae, especially Suaeda maritima and Suaeda fruticosa. Oviparae and small apterous males are produced in autumn. The Sea-blight aphid is found in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Korea.

 

Biology & Ecology:

Clypeoaphis suaedae is a salt marsh specialist, although we know very little about this aphid's adaptations to the marine environment. It has a reputation for being difficult to find and not easily dislodged (Gimingham, 1942  ) - beaters take note.

It uses three methods to escape natural enemies. When the aphid is on the green parts of the plant, the olive-green colour of the aphids is excellent cryptic coloration  (see second picture above ). An additional method of avoidance, less often used by aphids, is active hiding. Any disturbance sends the aphids down the stem where they are concealed under the leaf sheaths (see picture below taken immediately prior to the aphid disappearing from sight).

A third method of avoidance is escape - Clypeoaphis suaedae may jump off the plant if disturbed.

The abundance of chrysopid eggs on infested plants (see picture below) suggests that lacewing larvae may be important predators.

Mifsud et al. (2011)   reported finding Clypeoaphis suaedae as small colonies or scattered on stems of Suaeda vera and Suaeda maritima in salt marshes in Malta. Joger et al. (2012)   reports Clypeoaphis suaedae as one of only 19 aphid species found on plants growing on the dried up floor of the Aral sea.

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Rye Harbour Nature Reserve  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

  •  Gimingham, C.T. (1942) Clypeoaphis suaedae Soliman, a genus and species of Aphididae new to Britain. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 78, 32-34.

  •  Joger, U. et al. (2012). Fauna of the Aralkum. Chapter 11 in Breckle, S.-W et al. (eds). Aralkum - a man-made desert. Ecological Studies 218. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg. Full text 

  •  Mifsud, D. et al. (2011). Aphids associated with shrubs, herbaceous plants and crops in the Maltese Archipelago (Hemiptera, Aphidoidea). Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Malta 4 (1), 5-53 Full text