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Genus Prociphilus

Leaf nest-conifer root aphids

On this page: Prociphilus   Prociphilus bumeliae and Prociphilus fraxini 

Prociphilus [Pemphigini]

Identification: Prociphilus species range from rather small to very large aphids. They are characterised by lacking siphunculi and having well developed wax glands.

The genus contains about 50 species. They live in pseudogalls on shrubs in the Rosaceae, Caprifoliaceae and Oleaceae, and migrate to conifer roots as their secondary hosts.

 

Prociphilus bumeliae and Prociphilus fraxini (Ash-conifer root aphids)

In spring the fundatrices of Prociphilus bumeliae and Prociphilus fraxini are brown, covered with white wax wool, and form loose leaf-nests on their primary host ash (Fraxinus species). The first image below shows a mature colony. Prociphilus bumeliae sometimes also uses privet (Ligustrum vulgare) or common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) as a primary host. Both of these aphids may also form colonies on the bark of the stem or branches (see second picture below). Prociphilus bumeliae and Prociphilus fraxini both have distinct wax glands on the head and thorax, as well as large, albeit indistinct wax glands on the abdomen (the white patches of wax in the second picture below mark the positions of the wax glands). The 5-segmented antennae are about a third of the length of the body. There are no siphunculi.

Images copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

Alates (see second picture below) have a blackish-brown head and thorax, and a light brown or yellowish red abdomen, more or less covered with white wax wool. The 6-segmented antennae are about half the length of the body.

Images copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

The two species we deal with on this page can only be distinguished at the alate stage produced in the leaf nest.

  • In the Prociphilus bumeliae alate the third antennal segment is more than five times longer than the second antennal segment. Also the head has only a pair of posterior dorsal wax pore plates which are conspicuous as clearly defined pale areas much larger than the ocelli.

  • In the Prociphilus fraxini alate the third antennal segment is usually less than five times longer than the second antennal segment. The posterior wax pore plates on the head are ill-defined, but there is usually a pair of small clear anterior wax pore plates.

Both these Prociphilus species host alternate from ash (Fraxinus) to fir (Abies). The fundatrices colonize the base of ash. Their offspring feed on the young shoots and petioles inducing the formation of leaf nests often high in the trees. These develop into alatae, which migrate to the roots of fir.

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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 sp 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

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