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Identification & Distribution:

Adult apterae of Dysaphis tulipae are pale greenish yellow, but may appear whitish because of an overlay of white powder. There is often a reddish suffusion around the siphunculi which is more prominent in immatures. The longest hairs on the third antennal segment are 10-27 μm, often somewhat blunt apically, and 0.6-1.1 times longer than the basal diameter of that segment. There are spinal tubercles on the head and on abdominal tergite 8. The body length of the Dysaphis tulipae aptera is 1.7-2.3 mm.

The alate Dysaphis tulipae has a dorsal patch with lateral extensions which close the space between it and the prominent marginal sclerites.

The siphunculi are 1.4-1.5 times longer than the cauda and the antennae have 24-55 secondary rhinaria on the third antennal segment, 3-14 on the fourth segment, and none on the fifth.

Micrographs of clarified mounts  by permission of Roger Blackman, copyright AWP  all rights reserved.

The tulip bulb aphid is found on the bulbs, shoots and leaves of many monocotyledonous plants in the lily and tulip (Liliaceae), crocus, gladiolus and iris (Iridaceae), arum (Araceae) and banana (Musaceae) families. The species is entirely parthenogenetic with no sexual forms. Colonies are commonly ant attended. Dysaphis tulipae has a worldwide distribution apart from South America.


Biology & Ecology:

The tulip bulb aphid can be seen on the older leaves of lilies and irises in summer, where it forms tight colonies as shown in the pictures below. It can also be seen on bulbs and rhizomes of lilies and crocuses in winter storage.


In Britain we have not found Dysaphis tulipae to be a common species, but colonies are not especially noticeable being low down near the base of the plant (see picture below), or concealed under the dried outer scales of the bulb.

Ant attendance

The few Dysaphis tulipae colonies we have found have been rather loosely attended by the black garden ant (Lasius niger).



Other aphids on the same host

Dysaphis tulipae has a fairly varied cohort of potential competitors depending on whether it is feeding on iris, lily or Araceae.

Bell et al. (2015)  (Appendix S2) have also published an "annotated checklist of aphids present in the UK". We discuss some of the reasons for the differences between Baker's and Bell's lists in our rare aphids page. 


Damage and control

The tulip bulb aphid can inhibit and distort the growth of young shoots, and heavy infestations may kill the plant. It can also transmit viruses such as tulip breaking virus. Alford (ed) (2000)  recommends regular fumigation of bulb stores with nicotine smoke to prevent a build-up of aphid numbers.


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 


  •  Alford, D.V. (2000). Pest and Disease Management Handbook. Blackwell, Oxford.