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Identification & Distribution:

The wingless viviparae of Mindarus abietinus are yellowish green and covered with wax wool. The antennae and legs are distinctly darker. Note that the one in the picture was disturbed and has shed much of its wax covering. The body length of apterae is 1.7-2.0 mm. The winged viviparae of Mindarus abietinus have dark dorsal abdominal cross-bands and a body length of 1.5-2.7 mm.

 

The images below show an apterous adult Mindarus abietinus, dorsal and ventral, in alcohol.

 

The balsam twig aphid is found on young shoots of fir (Abies spp.) especially silver fir (Abies alba) and Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana). Eggs hatch in winter and there are then three generations. Small apterous sexual form are produced in June and the females lay the eggs which hatch the following January.

Mindarus abietinus is found throughout Europe, as well as the Middle East, Pakistan and possibly India and parts of the Far East. It may cause serious damage or kill young shoots, or cause deformation and loss of needles. There is also some evidence that infestations affect susceptibility to spruce budworm.

 

Other aphids on same host:

Acknowledgements

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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