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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Abstrusomyzus phloxae


Abstrusomyzus phloxae

Obscure dark-tipped aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Abstrusomyzus phloxae are pale apple-green with faint orange patches around their siphuncular bases. The head is ornamented with numerous spicules, and the antennal tubercles are moderately developed with prominent converging scabrous processes extending from the antennal bases. The dorsal abdomen is without dark markings, but does have hexagonal reticulation which is faint due to the pale, unsclerotized tergum (cf. Abstrusomyzus reticulatus, Abstrusomyzus valuliae & Abstrusomyzus leucocrini, which all have the dorsum of the abdomen dark pigmented, usually black). The siphunculi are mostly pale but with a dark tip (cf. Aphis asclepiadis, Aphis fabae, Aphis gossypii, Aphis plantaginis, Aphis frangulae, Aphis spiraecola & Protaphis middletonii, all of which have dark siphunculi). The siphunculi are slightly swollen subapically over about the distal quarter (cf. Aulacorthum solani, Myzus ornatus & Neomyzus circumflexus, which have the distal half of the siphunculi tapering or cylindrical, and Rhopalosiphoninus latysiphon and Rhopalosiphoninus staphyleae, which have the siphunculi markedly swollen). The body length of adult Abstrusomyzus phloxae apterae is 1.2-1.8 mm.

Note: Aphid species chosen for comparisons above are just some of those found on Plantago and Apocynum, which are the most frequent hosts of Abstrusomyzus phloxae.

Image above copyright Andrew Jensen under a cc by-nc-sa licence.

The dorsal abdomen of the alate Abstrusomyzus phloxae (see second picture below) has dark lateral sclerites, with interrupted cross bands on some segments which often have hexagonal reticulation similar to the tergum of apterous vivipara.

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

Both images above copyright Gregory Parks, AphID, under a cc by-nc-sa licence.

Abstrusomyzus phloxae is a polyphagous species, having been recorded from several Asteraceae (Achillea, Agoseris, Centaurea) and from a number of unrelated genera including Apocynum, Capsella, Carex, Cerastium, Galium, Phacelia, Phlox, Plantago, Polygonum, Ranunculus, Stellaria, Trifolium, Viola. In the eastern USA Abstrusomyzus phloxae is most common on Plantago, and in the western USA it is common on Apocynum. Note that Abstrusomyzus on strawberries (Fragaria spp.) are more likely to be Abstrusomyzus valuliae and on Oxalis spp. are more likely to be Abstrusomyzus reticulatus (Jensen & Stoetzel, 1999). Usually Abstrusomyzus phloxae colonizes the basal or rosette leaves of low-growing plants where colonies are often ant-tented. On Apocynum it feeds on the undersides of leaves causing characteristic leaf tissue yellowing. Abstrusomyzus phloxae mainly reproduces parthenogenetically all year, but oviparae have been found in Nova Scotia. The species is widely distributed in North America.


Other aphids on the same host

Blackman & Eastop list 22 species of aphid as feeding on great plantain (Plantago major) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list).

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 17 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

Abstrusomyzus phloxae is recorded on 1 species of Apocynum, Apocynum androsaemifolium.

Blackman & Eastop list 11 species of aphid as feeding on Apocynum androsaemifolium worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 8 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


We are grateful to the photographers credited above for making their photographs available on a creative commons licence. For more pictures of Abstrusomyzus phloxae and its feeding damage see AphidTrek.

The live aptera pictured was identified by Andrew Jensen. For taxonomic details and biology we have used the keys and species accounts of Samson (1939) (as Ovatus phloxae), Mason (1940) (as Myzus plantagineus, Hille Ris Lambers (1966) (as Ovatus phloxae) and Jensen & Stoetzel (1999) together with information from Roger Blackman & Victor Eastop in Aphids on Worlds Plants. 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


  • Hille Ris Lambers, D. (1966). Notes on California aphids, with descriptions of new genera and new species. Hilgardia 97 (15), 569-623. Abstract

  • Jensen, A.S. & Stoetzel, M.B. (1999). An examination of the North American aphid species currently placed in Ovatus van der Goot (Hemiptera: Aphididae) with the description of a new genus. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 101 (1), 39-56. Full text

  • Mason, P.W. (1940). A revision of the North American aphids of the genus Myzus. U. S. Dept. Agr. Misc. Publ. 371, 1-29. Full text

  • Samson, W.W. (1939). California aphids of the genus Phorodon. Pan Pacific Entomologist 15 (4), 173-175.