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Sipha maydis

Bristly black grass aphid, Barley aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution 

Identification & Distribution

The dorsum of the adult Sipha maydis aptera (see aphid nearest the ant in picture) is shining dark brown to blackish over the sclerotized areas. The antennal terminal process is less than 1.5 times as long as base of antennal segment 5. The apical rostral segment is 0.10-0.11 mm long, with 2- 3 subsidiary hairs. The adult body length is l.0-2.l mm.

Image copyright Adam Polednicek, all rights reserved.

The alate Sipha maydis (see picture above) has a solid sclerotic carapace extending over abdominal tergites 4-7, and including the siphuncular bases and the marginal sclerites of tergites 6-7. Abdominal tergites l-3 have separate dark bands, becoming narrower towards the front. Developing alatae (see the three larger wingless individuals in the picture above) are greenish on the thoracic area with a dull black abdomen and a characteristic orange-pinkish spinal stripe.

The bristly black grass aphid feeds on numerous species of grasses (Poaceae). It is mostly found on the upper sides of leaf blades, near the base, but also occurs on the stems or flowers. It is usually attended by ants as in the picture. It probably overwinters parthenogenetically in most areas, but apterous males have been reported in some countries. Sipha maydis is found in Europe and much of Asia, and more recently in North and South America. It can reach pest numbers on some cereal crops like barley.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Adam Polednicek who contributed the excellent picture shown here.

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).

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