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Amphorophora ampullata

Dark-tipped fern aphid

On this page: Identification & Distribution Biology & Ecology Other aphids on the same host Damage & Control

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Amphorophora ampullata sensu lato are green except for the eyes which are red, the siphunculi which have the distal half brown and the apices black, the tarsi and the tips of antennal segments III-VI and tibiae which are black. The characteristics given first in this section refer to Amphorophora ampullata sensu stricto, followed by comparisons with the subspecies. The terminal process is 3.5-5.2 times the length of the base of antennal segment VI (Amphorophora ampullata laingi, which has the terminal process 5.0-6.6 times the length of the base of antennal segment VI). Antennal segment III has 5-23 secondary rhinaria (cf.Amphorophora ampullata bengalensis, which has only 1-6 rhinaria near the base). The apical rostral segment (R IV+V) is 0.85-1.15 times the length of the second hind tarsal segment (HT II) (cf. Amphorophora ampullata bengalensis, which has RIV+V 1.15-1.4 times the length of HTII). The siphunculi are almost smooth, have little or no subapical reticulation, and are swollen on the distal part with maximum width about twice the narrowest width just next to the flange. The siphunculi are 1.9-2.7 times the length of the cauda (cf. Amphorophora ampullata laingi which has siphunculi 1.5-2.1 times the length of the cauda). The cauda is short and thick with 20 hairs. The body length of adult apterae of Amphorophora ampullata sensu stricto is 3.0-5.0 mm.

Both images above by permission, copyright Claude Pilon, all rights reserved.

The alate is much like the apterous viviparous female, except that antennal segment III has 21-51 secondary rhinaria.

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


  • Amphorophora ampullata sensu stricto (= Amphorophora ampullata ampullata) occurs in Europe and USA.
  • Amphorophora ampullata ssp. laingi occurs in USA, with populations mainly associated with Onoclea sensibilis and Matteuccia spp. (Onocleae).
  • Amphorophora ampullata ssp. bengalensis occurs in China.
  • Blackman (2020) notes that populations on Athyrium filix-femina in Netherlands and UK have a longer R IV+V and other morphological differences as well as a different karyotype (= chromosome number & gross shape, see below) and presumably represent an undescribed species.

Amphorophora ampullata feeds on the frond undersides of ferns in a number of genera (e.g. Asplenium, Athyrium, Cystopteris, Dryopteris, Onoclea, Polypodium, Polystichum). It does not host alternate, remaining all year on ferns. Sexual forms with alate males develop in autumn, and the population overwinters in the egg stage. Amphorophora ampullata is found in Europe, Asia and North America.


Biology & Ecology

Reddy & Kumari (2016) studied the seasonal incidence of Amphorophora ampullata on the fern, Hypolepis polypodioides in Western Himalayas, India. Aphid abundance showed two peaks in a year. In the first year of sampling, peak incidence of aphids was recorded during the third week of November (c. 26 aphids/pinna); the aphid population gradually decreased from December 2012 onwards and fell below threshold detection level during the last week of January. The aphid population started building up again from first week of February 2013 and attained its peak in the last week of August (c. 32 aphids/pinna). It then decreased gradually until the first week of September (c. 20 aphids/pinna) before increasing again to reached maximum aphid densities during November (c. 56 aphids/pinna). Among weather parameters, relative humidity during morning hours was [positively]correlated with aphid numbers.


Other aphids on the same host

Amphorophora ampullata has not been reported on any named species of Asplenium, but has been reported on ferns in genus Asplenium.

Amphorophora ampullata has been reported on one species of Pteridium, Pteridium aquilinum.

Amphorophora ampullata has been reported on three species of Athyrium (Athyrium filix-femina, Athyrium rubripes, Athyrium yokoscense).


Damage and control

Reddy & Kumari (2013) noted that both nymphs and adult Amphorophora ampullata are responsible for causing damage to Hypolepis polypodioides. They were found congregating on the lower surface of fronds. They injure the plant by piercing and sucking the sap, which results in yellowing, loss of vigour, drying, and dropping of fronds. In severe infestations, entire plants start drying and wilting.


We are especially grateful to Claude Pilon for pictures of Amphorophora ampullata (for more of her excellent pictures see).

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 Palmer (1952), Hottes & Frison (1931) & Footit & Maw (1997) as well as Blackman & Eastop (1994) and Blackman & Eastop (2006). 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


  • Foottit, R. & Maw, E. (1997). Aphids (Homoptera: Aphidoidea) of the Yukon. pp. 387-404 in H.V. Danks and J.A. Downes (Eds.), Insects of the Yukon. Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), Ottawa. 1034 pp. © 1997. Full text

  • Hottes, F.C. & Frison, T.H. (1931). The Plant Lice, or Aphiidae, of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 19(3), 123-447. Full text

  • Palmer, M.A. (1952). Aphids of the Rocky Mountain Region: including primarily Colorado and Utah, but also bordering area composed of southern Wyoming, southeastern Idaho and northern New Mexico. Full text

  • Reddy, S.G.E. et al. (2013). First report of the aphid, Amphorophora ampullata (Homoptera: Aphididae) on the fern, Hypolepis polypodioides (Hypolepidaceae) from Western Himalayas (India). American Fern Journal 103(3), 185-187. Full text