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Identification & Distribution:

Periphyllus aceris apterae are yellow with green flecks dorsally (see first picture below). The head, pronotum and legs (except tarsi) are pale. The antennae have a terminal process that is 2.2-2.7 times as long as the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are pale and short - about 2.1 - 2.5 times as long as the cauda. The cauda is distinctly shorter than the width of the base. The body length is 1.5-3.7 mm.

Periphyllus species are most readily differentiated using characters on the alates. Periphyllus aceris alates (see second picture above) have widely separated dorsal cross-bands (cf. Periphyllus acericola  alates which have broad dark dorsal abdominal cross-bars scarcely separated between segments). The marginal sclerites and the pterostigma are equally dark (cf. Periphyllus testudinaceus  which has the cross-bands and marginal sclerites darker than the light brown pterostigma of the wing). The alate body length is 3.2-4.5 mm.

Periphyllus aceris lives on the undersides of leaves, petioles and growing shoots of Acer species, especially Acer platanoides (Norway maple). It is not usually attended by ants. The species is found throughout most of Europe, but has apparently not so far established itself in North America.

 

Biology & Ecology:

Life cycle

Overwintering eggs of Periphyllus aceris hatch in early spring and the fundatrices settle the buds and lignified shoots of maple.

The offspring of these fundatrices settle the leaves of the tree and are shown below.

 

These develop into both apterae and alates which in turn produce a generation of diapausing nymphs. The picture below is a close up of large group of aestivating nymphs of Periphyllus aceris on the underside of the leaf. They are creamy in colour and very hairy, much like the aestivating nymphs of Periphyllus acericola, although there are minor differences in the shape of some hairs on the tarsal segments.

Mackos (2008)  reports these nymphs form the gatherings immediately after birth. Several gatherings may be found on one leaf with about 40-50 larvae in each. Their heads are turned towards the middle of the circle. He records how in situations of danger such as the approach of coccinellids they may disperse on the leaf, only re-aggregating when danger has passed.

 

The first image shows the distribution of groups of aestivating nymphs on a leaf of Acer platanoides (Norway Maple). They appear to be concentrated around the edge of leaf, possibly because there are fewer risks of a predator attack (although also fewer options of escape). A few of the nymphs at the edges of the groups are much darker than the others - these are shown in close up in the second image. They appear to have been killed by a fungus which contributes to the mortality of nymphs during aestivation. Furuta (1985)  recorded a very high (99.9 %) mortality rate of a related American species during aestivation, mainly resulting from predation.

The aestivating nymphs resume development in late summer and mature to oviparae shown in the picture below.

The oviparae then lay the overwintering eggs on the maple twigs and bark.

 

Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 8 species of aphid  as feeding on Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 6 as occurring in Britain: Drepanosiphum platanoidis,  Periphyllus aceris, Periphyllus californiensis,  Periphyllus lyropictus,  Periphyllus testudinaceus  and Stomaphis graffii.

 

Damage and control

Norway Maple is widely used as an urban street and shade tree due to its tolerance of poor soils and urban pollution. As such, when aphid populations are high, deposits of honeydew may reach nuisance levels. The aphids also presumably reduce tree growth, although no studies have specifically addressed this for this species.

Identifications & Acknowledgements

Whilst we make every effort to ensure that identifications are correct, we cannot absolutely warranty their accuracy. 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

  •  Dixon, A.F.G. & Thieme, T. (2007). Aphids on deciduous trees. Naturalist's Handbooks 29. Richmond

  •  Furuta, K. (2009). Spatial distribution and mortality of aestivating dimorphs of the maple aphid, Periphyllus californiensis Shinji (Homoptera, Aphididae). Zeitschrift für Angewandte Entomologie 100 (1-5), 256-264.  Abstract 

  •  Mackos, E. (2007). Aphids/Hemiptera, Aphidoidea/ on maple Acer platanoides in the urban green areas of the city of Lublin. Aphids and other hemipterous insects 14, 73-81. Full text 

  •  Stroyan, H.L.G. (1977). Homoptera: Aphidoidea (Part) - Chaitophoridae and Callaphidae. Handbooks for the identification of British insects. 2 (4a) Royal Entomological Society of London. Full text