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Genus Microlophium

Nettle aphids

On this page: Genus Microlophium  Microlophium carnosum 

Genus Microlophium [Macrosiphini]

These are large spindle-shaped aphids, the adult viviparae of which may be winged or wingless. The antennae are much longer than the body length. The antennal tubercles are smooth, with the inner faces divergent. The siphunculi are long, tapering with a large flange. The body length of apterae is usually more than 3 mm.

There are only four species in this genus living mostly on nettles (Urticaceae). They have a sexual stage in the life cycle overwintering as eggs. They are not attended by ants, unlike the other common species on nettles (Aphis urticae) which is nearly always ant-attended.


Microlophium carnosum (Common nettle aphid)

Microlophium carnosum is a large spindle-shaped aphid. The wingless adults are various shades of green, pink or reddish purple. The antennae are much longer than the full body length. The siphunculi are long - 2.3 to 3.1 times the length of the cauda; they are tapering with flared apices. The body length of apterae is 3.1-4.3 mm. The winged adult has dark marginal sclerites, but only faint spino-pleural markings.


There is a sexual stage in the life cycle, but there is no host alternation. Common nettle aphids live on stems and leaves of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). They are generally common and often abundant throughout Europe and Asia east to Mongolia, Africa & North America. They are not ant-attended.

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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 


  •  Blackman, R.L. & Eastop, V.F. (2006). Aphids on the world's herbaceous plants and shrubs. Vols 1 and 2. John Wiley & Sons.