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Rhopalomyzus lonicerae

Honeysuckle-grass aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution  Other aphids on the same host 

Identification & Distribution:

The fundatrix (not pictured here) on the primary host Lonicera (honeysuckle) has a dark green body which is powdered with greyish wax. The head, appendages, siphunculi and cauda are dark. These fundatrices only produce alatae which have a yellow abdomen with a dark dorsal patch on the middle tergites and smaller marginal and postsiphuncular sclerites. The alatae migrate to the secondary host (grasses) where they produce large numbers of apterae (see pictures below). These are very pale cream. Their antennae have the apex of antennal segment 3 and segments 4-6 dark. The antennal tubercles are well developed and diverging; the median frontal tubercle is broad and flat. The siphunculi are pale and strongly swollen with the width near the distal end 1.7-2.0 times the basal width. The siphunculi are 1.3-1.6 times the length of the pale cauda (cf. Rhopalomyzus poae which has siphunculi 1.9-2.5 times the length of the cauda). The body length of the adult aptera of Rhopalomyzus lonicerae is 2.0-2.6 mm.

Second image copyright Sandy Rae, all rights reserved.

The micrographs below show (first) a lateral view of an apterous vivipara, and (second) a close-up of the head and darkened antennae.

The alate Rhopalomyzus lonicerae (see second micrograph below) has a variably developed patch on adominal tergites 3-5 and fragmented cross bands on tergites 6 and 7.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Rhopalomyzus lonicerae : wingless, and winged.

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

Rhopalomyzus lonicerae host alternates between the primary host, honeysuckle (Lonicera) and the secondary hosts which are various grasses (Poaceae), especially reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea). The leaves of the grass may be densely covered by aphids. It has a sexual stage in the life cycle, overwintering on the primary host as eggs. Rhopalomyzus lonicerae is found throughout Europe, central Asia and Siberia.

 

Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 7 species of aphid  as feeding on common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015)  lists 5 as occurring in Britain: Aphis fabae,  Aphis gossypii,  Hyadaphis passerinii,  Macrosiphum euphorbiae  and Rhopalomyzus lonicerae.

Acknowledgements

Our thanks to Sandy Rae  for his photo of the colony of the honeysuckle-grass aphid.

Our particular thanks to Roger Blackman for images of his clarified slide mounts.

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) , 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).