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Myzus cerasi

Black cherry aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution  Biology & Ecology 

Identification & Distribution:

Myzus cerasi is a small to medium sized aphid. Adult apterae (see first picture below) on the primary host are shiny, very dark brown to black with a sclerotized dorsum. The siphunculi are cylindrical and black with the distal part slightly curved outward. The legs and antennae are yellowish and black and the cauda is brown. The body length of Myzus cerasi apterae is 1.8-2.6 mm.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Myzus cerasi (on primary host) : wingless, and winged.

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

Most populations of the black cherry-aphid host alternate and have a sexual stage in the life cycle. Host alternation is between cherry (Prunus cerasus, Prunus avium) as the primary host and bedstraws (Galium), eyebrights (Euphrasia) and speedwell (Veronica spp) as the secondary hosts. However, colonies can be found on cherry throughout the summer. Forms on Prunus cerasus and Prunus avium are sometimes considered as different subspecies or even species. On the primary host Myzus cerasi cause the leaves to curl and produce leaf nests (see second picture at top of page). It is distributed throughout the palaearctic zone and is now almost cosmopolitan.

Biology & Ecology

Ant attendance
Myzus cerasi is avidly attended by ants. The colony below was attended by Myrmica rubra.

Gruppe (1990)  looked at ant associations with Myzus cerasi in Germany. The trophobiotic association of Myzus cerasi with ants was not obligatory, colonies of the aphid being found without ants. Lasius niger and Myrmica laevinoides were the commonest species found with Myzus cerasi. Keeping ants away from cherry trees using sticky bands resulted in the development of fewer colonies of the aphid compared with untreated trees. On trees with ants, development of aphid colonies started from the central part and spread to many adjacent buds and shoots, where new colonies formed. Only isolated colonies occurred on trees without ants.

The colony above was attended by Lasius niger.

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Plumpton College  and Sussex Wildlife Trust  for permission to sample.

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

  •  Gruppe, A. (1990). Investigations on the significance of ants in the development and dispersal of the black cherry aphid Myzus cerasi F. (Hom., Aphididae). Zeitschrift fur Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz 97(5), 484-489. Abstract