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Genus Trama

Daisy root aphids

On this page: Trama Trama caudata Trama maritima Trama rara Trama troglodytes

Trama [Lachnini]

Trama are medium to large aphids. They are whitish and densely hairy, with small compound eyes. Their antennae are about 0.5 times the body length, with the antennal terminal process less than 0.25 times the base of antennal segment 6. The hind tarsus is greatly elongated. Trama aphids have neither siphunculi nor siphuncular pores, and the cauda is rounded.

There are 14 Trama species worldwide, mostly living on the roots of Asteraceae where they are attended by ants.

 

Trama caudata (Garden root aphid)

Adult apterae of Trama caudata (see first picture below) are whitish, pale yellow or brownish with no sclerotic bands. Trama caudata is differentiated from the closely related Trama maritima by having a relatively shorter antennal segment III relative to the lengths of antennal segments IV and V. For Trama caudata antennal segment III is 1.80-2.35 (usually 2.0-2.2 times) the length of antennal segment IV, and 0.90-1.35 times the length of antennal segment V. (cf. Trama maritima for which antennal segment III is 2.1-2.8 times (usually 2.4-2.7 times) the length of antennal segment IV, and 1.35-1.80 times the length of antennal segment V). Siphuncular pores are present on very low cones. The body length of the adult aptera is 2.5-3.3 mm.

The alate viviparous female (not pictured) has dark dorsal and marginal sclerites on the abdomen. Immature Trama caudata (see second picture above) are usually straw-coloured.

Trama caudata feeds on the roots of plants in the daisy family (Asteraceae). They are commonly found on agricultural crops such as chicory (Cichorium) and lettuce (Lactuca), as well as non-cultivated genera including cats ears (Hypochaeris), oxtongues (Picris), hawkbits (Leontodon), sowthistles (Sonchus) and dandelions (Taraxacum). Sexual morphs have not been found, so it is assumed that all reproduction is parthenogenetic and that they overwinter as viviparae. Trama caudata occurs over most of Europe, but has yet to be found in Scandinavia.

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Trama maritima (Coastal root aphid)

Adult apterae of Trama maritima (see first picture below) are whitish, pale yellow or brownish with no sclerotic bands. The species is differentiated from the closely related Trama caudata by having a relatively longer antennal segment III relative to the lengths of antennal segments IV and V. So for Trama maritima antennal segment III is 2.1-2.8 times (usually 2.4-2.7 times) the length of antennal segment IV, and 1.35-1.80 times the length of antennal segment V (cf. Trama caudata for which antennal segment III is 1.80-2.35 (usually 2.0-2.2 times) the length of antennal segment IV, and 0.90-1.35 times the length of antennal segment V. Siphuncular pores are present on very low, light brown cones. The body length of the adult Trama maritima aptera is 2.6-3.9 mm.

The alate viviparous female (not pictured) has dark dorsal and marginal sclerites on the abdomen. Immature Trama maritima (see second picture above) are usually straw-coloured, sometimes with a green tinge.

Trama maritima live in colonies on the roots of bristly oxtongue (Picris echioides) and spiny sowthistle (Sonchus asper, mainly in coastal regions. They are attended by ants, especially Lasius flavus. Sexual forms have not been found, so it is assumed that they reproduce parthenogenetically through the year.

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Trama rara (Dandelion root aphid)

Adult apterae of Trama rara are whitish to olive-brown (see first picture below). The antennae are slightly shorter than half the body length (see first picture above), with the terminal process about 0.22-0.25 times the base of the sixth antennal segment. The eyes (see first micrograph below) have 25-50 facets (cf. Trama troglodytes where the eyes have only 3 facets). The second hind tarsal segment is greatly elongated (see two pictures above), being 0.84-0.92 times the length of the hind tibia (cf. Trama troglodytes which has the second hind tarsal segment 0.60-0.82 times the length of the hind tibia). The adult Trama rara aptera body length is 2.5-3.5 mm.

The Trama rara alate (see second picture above) has dark dorsal and marginal sclerites on the abdomen. This alate was newly moulted (one wing is partly fluid-filled) and had not fully darkened.

Trama rara live in ant attended colonies on the roots of dandelion (Taraxacum spp.) and a few other Asteraceae. It is found in Europe, parts of Asia and in North America.

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Trama troglodytes (Artichoke tuber aphid)

Trama troglodytes adult apterae are white, yellowish-white or grey depending on age. Their antennae are about 0.5-0.6 times the body length. The terminal process of the aptera antenna is shorter than the base of the sixth antennal segment (see first micrograph below). The most distinctive character of this aphid is the elongate hind tarsus. The second segment of hind tarsus (HTII) is 0.65-0.82 times the length of the hind tibia (cf. Trama rara which has HTII 0.84-0.92 times the length of the hind tibia). Siphuncular pores are absent (cf. Trama caudata &  Trama maritima which both have siphuncular pores). Their cauda is semi-circular. The body length of Trama troglodytes aptera is 2.5-3.9 mm.

The Trama troglodytes alate has dark dorsal sclerites and marginal sclerite (see second picture above - it shows an alate whose wings have been chewed off by an ant). The antenna of the alate has 0-4 secondary rhinaria on segment III, 0-4 on segment IV and 0-6 on segment V.

The artichoke tuber aphid lives on the roots of many Asteraceae, especially Achillea, Artemisia, Cirsium and Sonchus. They are invariably attended by ants. These aphids mainly overwinter as parthenogenetic forms, but oviparae and blind wingless males have been found in southern England. Trama troglodytes is found in Europe, west Siberia, Central Asia and Japan.

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Acknowledgements

We are extremely grateful to Maria Fremlin who has sent us both living and preserved specimens of Trama rara from dandelion roots and Trama caudata on chicory roots from allotments in Colchester, Essex.

Whilst we make every effort to ensure that identifications are correct, we cannot absolutely warranty their accuracy. We have mostly made 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

References

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