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Macrosiphum ptericolens

Bracken aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

The apterae (see first picture below of fourth instar) and alates (see second picture below) of Macrosiphum ptericolens are pale yellowish green to a darker shiny green. Their antennae are longer than the body. The abdominal dorsum is entirely sclerotized but pale and smooth. The siphunculi are strongly tapering and have 5-10 rows of distinct reticulations with the reticulated area sometimes distinctly constricted. The body length of Macrosiphum ptericolens apterae is 2.3-3.3 mm.

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

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

The bracken aphid does not host alternate, but spends its entire life cycle on bracken (Pteridium spp.). Macrosiphum ptericolens is indigenous to eastern North America, but has been introduced into England, central Europe and South America.


Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 14 species of aphid  as feeding on bracken (common bracken, eagle fern, eastern brakenfern, Pteridium aquilinum) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 5 as occurring in Britain: Amphorophora ampullata, Aphis gossypii,  Aphis nasturtii,  Idiopterus nephrelepidis and Macrosiphum ptericolens.


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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