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Genus Drepanosiphum

Sycamore & maple aphids

Aphid identification: Genus Drepanosiphum  Drepanosiphum acerinum  Drepanosiphum aceris  Drepanosiphum platanoidis 

Genus Drepanosiphum

Identification These are medium-sized to large elongate aphids with antennae longer than the body. They have long tubular siphunculi with a ring-like constriction below the flange. The cauda is knobbed with a distinct constriction. All viviparae are winged. Males are winged and similar to the viviparae except for the genitalia. Oviparae are large and usually apterous, with the abdomen behind the siphunculi extended like an ovipositor.

A genus of eight species all living on the undersides of the leaves of sycamore or maple (Acer sp.). Drepanosiphum aphids do not host alternate, but remain on their chosen host species throughout the year. They are not attended by ants.

 

Drepanosiphum acerinum (Sapling sycamore aphid)

All adult viviparae are winged (= alates). Alate aphids are pale whitish-green to chrome yellow, with thoracic lobes darker. There are often one or two short brown bars on abdominal tergites 4-5 (see first picture below) which do not extend to the marginal plates (this distinguishes from the rarer Drepanosiphum dixoni - not pictured here - which also feeds on sycamore, but has the cross bands almost touching the marginal plates.) There is usually a conspicuous brown-black spot in front of the base of each siphunculus (visible in the second picture below). The siphunculi are only slightly swollen and are either entirely or distally dark or black. The long antennae are pale but the segments have brownish tips. Body length 2.1-3.3 mm.

 

Aphids live on sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) saplings in the shade. Sexual forms occur in September-October. The species is found throughout Europe, except the Baltic region.

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Drepanosiphum aceris (Scarce maple aphid)

All Drepanosiphum aceris viviparae are alate. Winged adult females (see pictures below) are yellowish or pale whitish-green with dark thoracic lobes. There are often rather narrow cross-bands on abdominal tergites 4 and 5 (just visible viewed through the wings), and usually lateral spots in front of bases of siphunculi. The siphunculi are dark (not black) at least distally. The forewing has a dark spot at the wing-tip and another (less clear) at the outer end of the pterostigma. The body length is 2.7-4.2mm.

 

The scarce maple aphid lives on field maple (Acer campestre), usually under leaves near ground. Sexual forms occur in September-November. Drepanosiphum aceris is distributed throughout Europe and east to the Caucasus.

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Drepanosiphum platanoidis (= platanoides) (Common sycamore aphid)

The alate adult female aphid has a yellow-brown head and thorax with darker brown markings, and a pale green abdomen with or without variably developed dark cross-bars. If cross-bars are present, these are never restricted to abdominal tergites 4-5. The antennae are brown and the siphunculi are pale with a brown tip. The forewing has no black spot at the tip nor one at the outer end of the pterostigma; the pterostigma is defined by two longitudinal brown stripes. The body length is 3.2-4.3mm. Drepanosiphum platanoides is an incorrect, but commonly used, synonym for this species.

 

The first picture shows an alate vivipara of Drepanosiphum platanoidis which developed in May. Note the yellow-brown head and thorax with darker brown markings. It has well-marked cross-bands which are not restricted to abdominal tergites 4 and 5. The second picture shows an alate vivipara of Drepanosiphum platanoidis which developed in mid-summer (late June). There are no cross-bands and the aphid is generally paler.

The common sycamore aphid is found on the undersides of leaves of Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). It is also recorded from many other Acer species, as well as a wide variety of other trees which are only visited on a casual basis. Sexual forms occur in September-November. It is common or abundant on sycamores wherever they are grown in Europe, central Asia, north Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

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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

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

  •  Heie, O.E. (1982) The Aphidoidea of Fennoscandia and Denmark. II. Drepanosiphidae. Fauna entomologica scandinavica 11, 176 pp.

  •  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.