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Melanaphis pyraria

Pear-grass aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

On the primary host, the dorsal abdomen is dark brown and has a solid dark sclerotic shield (see picture below). The hairs on the antenna and dorsal body are minute, less than half the diameter of the third antennal segment. The siphunculi are about twice their basal width and are shorter than the cauda. The body length of Melanaphis pyraria is 1.3-2.1 mm.

On pear, the primary host, in spring Melanaphis pyraria roll the leaves transversely or diagonal to the mid-rib. The gall may become yellowed or reddened as shown above. They may be attended by ants.

The micrographs below show an apterous adult Melanaphis pyraria, dorsal and ventral, in alcohol.

Melanaphis pyraria host alternates from its primary host pear (Pyrus) to its secondary hosts grasses (including Arrhenatherum, Poa, Holcus and Triticum) On the secondary host the appearance of Melanaphis pyraria differs according to the particular genus of grass colonized - reddish purple on Arrhenatherum, and yellowish on Poa and Triticum. The pear-grass aphid is widely distributed in Europe, as well as the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and the Caucasus.


Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 53 species of aphid  as feeding on common Pear (Pyrus communis) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 30 as occurring in Britain: Anuraphis catonii, Anuraphis farfarae, Anuraphis subterranea,  Aphis craccivora,  Aphis fabae,  Aphis gossypii,  Aphis pomi,  Aphis solanella, Aphis spiraecola, Aulacorthum solani,  Brachycaudus cardui,  Brachycaudus helichrysi,  Brachycaudus persicae,  Dysaphis plantaginea,  Dysaphis pyri,  Eriosoma americana, Eriosoma flavum, Eriosoma lanigerum,  Eriosoma lanuginosum, Eriosoma pyricola, Macrosiphum euphorbiae,  Macrosiphum rosae,  Melanaphis pyraria, Myzus ornatus,  Myzus persicae,  Nearctaphis bakeri, Ovatus crataegarius,  Ovatus insitus, Rhopalosiphum oxyacanthae  and Rhopalosiphum padi. 


Our thanks to Giuseppe Cocuzza for correcting our original misidentification of this species.

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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