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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Acyrthosiphon primulae


Identification & Distribution:

Adult apterae of Acyrthosiphon primulae (see first picture below) are shiny pale yellow to greenish yellow. They have dark tips to the antennae and legs, but not to the siphunculi which are entirely pale. The median frontal tubercle is slightly developed. The siphunculi are 2.2-3.1 times longer than the cauda. The cauda of Acyrthosiphon primulae is 1.3-1.6 times longer than the base of antennal segment 6.

The Acyrthosiphon primulae alate vivipara (see second picture above) has dark distal cross-bands and postsiphuncular sclerites.

The two images below show an apterous adult (first) and an alate (second) Acyrthosiphon primulae in alcohol.

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

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

Acyrthosiphon primulae lives on the underside of leaves of Primula species, especially cowslip (Primula veris) and Kew primrose (Primula X kewensis). It reproduces solely by parthenogenesis and no sexual forms are known. Acyrthosiphon primulae is found in Britain and some European countries, and has been introduced to Tasmania, New Zealand and California.


Biology & Ecology:

The pictures below show two of the host plants of Acyrthosiphon primulae: cowslip (Primula veris) (first) and common primrose (Primula vulgaris) (second).


There is very little about the primrose aphid in the literature apart from new records of its occurrence in various countries (e.g. Lopes et al. (2016) in Belgium). We have encountered this species only once - on a cultivated cowslip variety in East Sussex. The picture below shows an adult aptera of Acyrthosiphon primulae on cowslip.

The images below show alatiform fourth instar nymphs of Acyrthosiphon primulae on cowslip (Primula veris).


Most Acyrthosiphon primulae that we have found were parasitized - the picture below shows a parasitized mummy.


Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 8 species of aphid as feeding on Primula veris and/or Primula vulgaris worldwide, and provide formal identification keys. Baker (2015) lists all 8 species as occurring in Britain: Acyrthosiphon primulae, Aulacorthum solani, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, Myzus ascalonicus, Myzus cymbalariae, Myzus ornatus, Myzus persicae and Neomuzus circumflexus.

We have found several polyphagous aphids on Primula spp. including Myzus ornatus (see first picture below), Aulacorthum solani (see second picture below) and Myzus ascalonicus.



Damage and control

Aphids are commonly cited as pests of primroses and cowslips (Primula spp.) and several polyphagous pest species occur. Fortunately, aphid populations are usually restricted to the undersides of the leaves, and so have less effect on the 'look' of the plant. However, the aphids can induce leaf curl (see below), and the leaves are contaminated with honeydew and exuvia.

We have found the primrose specialist Acyrthosiphon primulae less commonly than the polyphagous species, especially Myzus ornatus and Aulacorthum solani. The only populations of Acyrthosiphon primulae that we have found have been eliminated fairly rapidly by natural enemies, especially parasitoids.


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


  •  Lopes, T. et al. (2016). Inventaire et mise en collection d'espèces de pucerons et de parasitoïdes collectés en grandes cultures, et premier enregistrement de Metopolophium frisicum (Hille Ris Lambers 1947) et Acyrthosiphon primulae (Theobald 1913) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) en Belgique. Entomologie Faunistique 69(1), 49-55. Full text