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Hyperomyzus lactucae

Blackcurrant-sowthistle aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution  Other aphids on the same host 

Identification & Distribution:

The adult aptera of Hyperomyzus lactucae (see first picture below) is medium-sized, broadly spindle shaped, and opaque green. The antennae of the aptera are quite long and pale, but the tips of the antennal segments are dark. The terminal process of the last antennal segment is 4.2-6.0 times the length of its base. The siphunculi are pale with somewhat darker tips, 1.65-2.0 times the length of the cauda, and distinctly swollen. They are 4-7 times longer than the maximum width of their swollen part, which is 1.3-2.0 times the minimum width of the basal part (cf. Hyperomyzus pallidus  which has siphunculi 3-5 times longer than the maximum width of their swollen part, which is 1.6-2.4 times the minimum width of the basal part) . The cauda is pale, shorter than the siphunculi, and finger shaped. The body length of wingless adult Hyperomyzus lactucae is 2.0-3.2 mm.

The secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III of the aptera are clustered towards the base of the segment (cf. Hyperomyzus pallidus  where they are more or less evenly distributed along the length of the segment).

The alate has a rather broken (fenestrated) central dark patch on the upper surface of the abdomen, shown in the second picture above and the second below.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Hyperomyzus lactucae: wingless, and winged.

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

The blackcurrant-sowthistle aphid has a sexual stage in its life cycle, and host alternates from blackcurrant (Ribes) to sowthistle (Sonchus). Populations build up on currant in spring causing leaves to curl downward and stunting young growth. Hyperomyzus lactucae migrates to sowthistle in June, disperses between the summer hosts in July and August, and returns to currant plants in autumn. The species is widely distributed in temperate parts of the world.


Other aphids on same host:

Primary host

Blackman & Eastop list 22 species of aphid  as feeding on blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 14 as occurring in Britain: Aphis fabae,  Aphis grossulariae,  Aphis schneideri,  Aphis triglochinis, Cryptomyzus galeopsidis,  Cryptomyzus galeopsidis ssp. citrinus, Cryptomyzus galeopsidis ssp. dickeri, Cryptomyzus ribis,  Eriosoma ulmi,  Hyperomyzus lactucae, Hyperomyzus pallidus,  Hyperomyzus rhinanthi,  Nasonovia ribisnigri  and Rhopalosiphoninus ribesinus. 

Note: Hyperomyzus lactucae has been recorded on 30 other Ribes species, including gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa).

Secondary hosts


Our particular thanks to Roger Blackman for images of his clarified slide mounts.

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).

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