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Identification & Distribution:

Adult apterae of Laingia psammae are dirty straw-coloured to greyish-green. They have a very elongate body, more than 2.5 times longer than its maximum width. The siphunculi are on abdominal tergite 6 (cf. Atheroides species where the siphunculi are on tergite 5) and are as slightly raised pores with sclerotic rims. Their diameter is greater than that of the hind tibia at midlength. The body length of the adult Laingia psammae aptera is 1.6-2.8 mm.

 

Images copyright Thomas Legrand, all rights reserved.

Laingia psammae alates have dark transverse bars on the dorsal abdomen.

The marram flower aphid is widespread across Europe. It lives on the flower heads of marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) and has also been found on couch grass (Elymus), reed grass (Calamagrostis), tufted hair grass (Deschampsia caespitosa) and lesser pond sedge (Carex acutiformis). Laingia psammae is sometimes attended by ants. Sexual forms have been found in autumn and at other times of year. It is widely distributed in Europe and across Asia to east Siberia.

 

Biology & Ecology:

The marram flower aphid is usually found between the flowers or developing seeds, but Vandegehuchte et al. (2010)  also found this species on plants with no inflorescences, living on the leaves. It reached peak densities somewhat earlier in the season than Schizaphis rufula.

Peña (2016)  found the facultative endosymbiont Serratia symbiotica in all specimens of Laingia psammae sampled from dunes on the Belgian coast. This endosymbiont has been reported to be pivotal in protection against heat shocks in several species of aphids, and in arid areas a relatively high proportion of aphids carry this symbiont (Henry et al., 2013 ).

 

Other aphids on marram grass (Ammophila arenaria):

Blackman & Eastop list 17 species of aphid  as feeding on Ammophila arenaria worldwide, and provide formal identification keys. Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 13 as occurring in Britain: Atheroides hirtellus, Atheroides serrulatus, Forda marginata, Geoica utricularia group, Hyalopteroides humilis,  Hyalopterus pruni,  Laingia psammae, Metopolophium dirhodum,  Schizaphis rufula, Sipha glyceriae, Sipha littoralis, Sitobion avenae,  and Tetraneura ulmi. 

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. 

Acknowledgements

Our particular thanks to Thomas Legrand for his images of Laingia psammae.

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

  •  Henry, L.M. et al. (2013). Horizontally transmitted symbionts and host colonization of ecological niches. Current Biology 23(17), 1713-1717. Full text 

  •  Peña, E. et al. (2016). Facultative endosymbionts of aphid populations from coastal dunes of the North Sea. Belgian Journal of Zoology 144(1), 41-50. Full text 

  •  Vandegehuchte et al. (2010). Aphids on Ammophila arenaria in Belgium: first reports and host range expansion. Belgian Journal of Zoology 140(1), 77-80. Full text