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Genus Periphyllus

Medium-sized to large elongate oval or pear-shaped aphids which may be winged or wingless. The dorsum is mainly membranous (unsclerotized) but there are many small hair-bearing plates. The siphunculi are stump-shaped with a pronounced flange. The cauda at the tip of the abdomen is either rounded or tongue-shaped with a slight constriction. Antennal hairs are usually long and conspicuous.

There are about 42 species of Periphyllus aphids mostly living on maples and sycamore (Acer spp) in the Aceraceae. They have a sexual stage in the life cycle, but do not host alternate. Some species are usually ant-attended. They show seasonal polymorphism to cope with physiological changes in the host with several species having an aestivating nymphal stage which is often flattened and hairy.


Periphyllus acericola (Sycamore periphyllus aphid)

Developing nymphs and adult apterae are pale green or yellowish green, with darker green flecks (see first picture below) and sometimes with dorsal brownish markings. The tips of the antennal segments are dark and the terminal process is 2.3 - 3.0 times as long as the last antennal segment. The head and pronotum are pale as are the legs and the siphunculi. The width of the base of the cauda is more than twice the length of the cauda. The adult aptera body length is 2.4-3.5 mm. The adult alates have broad dark dorsal abdominal cross-bars scarcely separated between segments, and paler marginal sclerites. The pterostigmata of the wings are black and darker than marginal plates (see second picture below) The adult alate body length is 3.0-3.5 mm.


The sycamore periphyllus aphid is found on the undersides of leaves, petioles and young shoots of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) throughout most of Europe. It is sometimes attended by ants.

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Periphyllus aceris (Maple periphyllus aphid)

Apterae are yellow with green flecks dorsally (see first picture below). 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 head, pronotum and legs (except tarsi) are pale. The body length is 1.5-3.7 mm. Winged female viviparae (see second picture below) have dorsal cross-bands more widely separated than in Periphyllus acericola, and with equally dark marginal sclerites and pterostigma. The body length is 3.2-4.5 mm.


The maple periphyllus aphid lives on the undersides of leaves, petioles and growing shoots of maples (Acer spp.), especially Norway maple (Acer platanoides). 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.

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Periphyllus californiensis (Californian maple aphid)

Periphyllus californiensis apterae (see first picture below) are dark olive-green to brown with dark dorsal cross bands. The apterae have the head, pronotum, and siphunculi dark. The length of the antennae is about 0.6 times the body length. The terminal process is about twice as long as the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are about as long as the second hind tarsal segment. The hind femur and tibia are uniformly dark (distinguishes from Periphyllus testudinaceus). The cauda is broadly rounded with 8-12 hairs. The body length is 2-3 mm. Periphyllus californiensis alates (see second picture below) have dark bands across abdominal tergites, apparently darker than the pterostigma.


The Californian maple aphid, Periphyllus californiensis, is not indigenous to Europe (nor to California), but is from East Asia. It has proved highly invasive and has spread to Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand on planted Asian ornamental maples such as smooth Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and downy Japanese maple (Acer japonicum).

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Periphyllus hirticornis (Green maple periphyllus aphid)

Periphyllus hirticonis apterae are light green with red eyes and no dark markings. The antennae are 0.7 times the body length, and have a terminal process that is 5 times as long as the last antennal segment. The two hairs on the base of antennal segment 6 are very unequal in length with the longer more than 4 times as long as the shorter. Some dorsal hairs have forked apices. The siphunculi are pale, longer than the second hind tarsal segment and strongly flared at the apex. The cauda is knobbed and has 6-8 hairs. The body length is 2-3 mm. Periphyllus hirticornis alates have variably developed marginal plates, no dorsal cross bands and brownish siphunculi and cauda.


The first picture above shows an aptera of the green maple periphyllus aphid. The second picture shows a developing colony. The green maple periphyllus aphid lives on the undersides of young leaves, leaf petioles and developing seeds of field maple (Acer campestre). Stroyan (1977)  notes the species may be locally common but is little recorded.

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Periphyllus lyropictus (Norway maple periphyllus aphid)

Identification:Apterae are yellowish with brown dorsal markings, usually comprising a broad spinal stripe on head and thorax and a large V-shaped mark on the dorsal abdomen. The cauda is tongue shaped, about as long as broad, and often with a slight constriction. The body length is 1.9-3.0 mm. Alatae have dark marginal sclerites, but other dorsal sclerotization is limited to the spinal area, not forming cross-bands.


The Norway maple periphyllus lives along veins on the undersides of leaves of Norway Maple (Acer platanoides). They often form large colonies producing much honeydew and are visited by ants and other insects. This species does not produce aestivating nymphs. Oviparae and alate males are produced in October-November. The Norway maple periphyllus is native to Europe, but it was introduced on Norway maple to North America, where it is now also widespread.

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Periphyllus obscurus (Dark periphyllus aphid)

The aptera is rather small and blackish green. The terminal process of the antenna is 3.2-6.9 times the length of the base of the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are dark and only about as long as the basal width. The hind tibiae are more or less pale without a contrasting dark base and distal section. The cauda is rounded with a constriction near its base and is more than half as long as its basal width. The body length is 1.8-2.6 mm.


The dark periphyllus aphid is found in ant-attended colonies on young shoots, leaf petioles and undersides of leaves of field maple (Acer campestre). Aestivating nymphs are apparently not produced. The oviparous female has been described. The species is found in central and western Europe.

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Periphyllus testudinaceus (Common periphyllus aphid)

The apterae are dirty dark green to dark brown or blackish and have a clear pattern of dark abdominal sclerites (see first picture below). The antennae have a terminal process that is 2.5-3.7 times as long as the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are brown and short. The tibiae have a very pale middle section which contrasts with their dark base and tip. The cauda is twice as broad as long. The body length is 2.0-3.7 mm.


Alates (see second picture above) have dark dorsal abdominal cross-bands and marginal sclerites, which are darker than the light brown pterostigma of the wing (see second picture below).

The common periphyllus aphid is found on the young growth, leaves and leaf petioles of various Maple species (Aceraceae) including Field Maple (Acer campestre), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) and Sycamore (Acer pseudoplanatus) as well as sometimes on Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastaneum). It is often attended by ants. It is found throughout Europe and has been introduced to other parts of the world including New Zealand and North America.

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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 


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

  •  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