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Identification & Distribution:

Apterae of Schizaphis scirpi are shiny dark bronze-brown to reddish brown or blackish. The third segment of the antenna is dark with long fine hairs up to 3-4 times longer than the basal diameter of the segment. The longest hairs on abdominal tergite 3 are 0.10-0.13 mm long. The siphunculi are about twice as long as the cauda. The body length of Schizaphis scirpi apterae is 1.5-2.8 mm.

 

Guest images copyright Sandy Rae,  all rights reserved

Schizaphis scirpi alatae have 7-16 secondary rhinaria on the third antennal segment, 0-8 on the fourth, and 0-1 on the fifth.

The bulrush aphid lives in ant-attended colonies at the leaf-bases of bulrushes (Typha spp.) and bur-reed (Sparganium spp.). They also occur on sedges (Carex, Eriophorum, Scirpus) and sometimes on other water plants. European populations on cottongrass (Eriophorum spp.) are considered to be a subspecies, Schizaphis scirpi ssp. eriophori They do not host alternate. Oviparae and winged males develop in the autumn. Schizaphis scirpi are found throughout Europe, and in south-west Asia.

 

Biology & Ecology:

There is very little published about the ecology of Schizaphis scirpi. The reddish colour of the leaf with the aphid colony below is most likely feeding damage caused by Schizaphis scirpi. A similar discoloration is caused by the pest species, Schizaphis graminum

Guest image copyright Sandy Rae,  all rights reserved

The aphid colony below are coloured a more bronzy brown reflecting the colour variation in this species.

Guest image copyright Sandy Rae,  all rights reserved

There has been some work done on parasitoids of this species. Petrovic et al. (2009)  reported Schizaphis scirpi as a host for the parasitoid Trioxys auctus. Tomanovic et al. (2012) pointed out that Schizaphis scirpi, along with other wetland aphid species, is an important alternative host for three beneficial parasitoid species, namely Lipolexis gracilis, Ephedrus plagiator and Diaretiella rapae. Since these aphids do not attack any cultivated plants, these parasitoids and their hosts have great potential for biocontrol.

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Sandy Rae  for permission to use images above.

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).

We are very grateful to Sandy Rae for allowing us to use his photographs of this aphid.

Useful weblinks 

References

  •  Petrovic, A. et al. (2009). New records of Aphidiinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) from Serbia and Montenegro. Acta entomologica serbica 14 (2), 219-224. Full text 

  •  Tomanovic, A. et al. (2012). Aphid parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Aphidiinae) in wetland habitats in western Palaearctic: key and associated aphid parasitoid guilds. Annales de la Société entomologique de France (N.S.) 48 (1-2), 189-198, Full text