Aphids on berries
Blackman & Eastop list about 50 species of aphid as feeding on berries worldwide, and provides formal identification keys for aphids on Rubus.
About 45 of these species are in just five genera, namely
and Matsumuraja. Below we figure species in the first four of these aphid genera.
As for the host plants, the genus Rubus has a number of subgenera, the most important of which are the subgenus Rubus (blackberries and dewberries) and subgenus Idaeobatus (raspberries). The subgenus Rubus has literally thousands of 'microspecies' mostly within the Rubus fruticosus (blackberry) aggregate. It is unclear whether the aphid fauna differs between these microspecies, although it is important to distinguish between the main species groups (see below).
The species below are those we have found most frequently, listed in rough order of abundance.
Aphis ruborum (Bramble aphid)
In early summer apterae are dark blue-green; but in late summer the dwarf apterae are pale yellowish. The abdominal dorsum is mostly pale and membranous. The siphunculi are pale but with dusky bases and apices, and 1.1-2 times the length of the cauda. The antennae and legs are pale. Alates have some pale faint dorsal bands and dark siphunculi. The body length of apterae is 1.1-2.2 mm.
The bramble aphid does not host alternate. It feeds on blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.). In early summer it lives in dense colonies, is ant attended and causes leaf curl. The summer dwarf apterae live singly between the veins. Sexual forms occur in autumn. It is widely distributed through Europe into central Asia.
Amphorophora idaei (Large raspberry aphid)
The large raspberry aphid is very similar to the large blackberry aphid (next species below) but it only feeds on raspberry and the apterae are usually paler, greenish white or pale yellow. The antennal terminal process is usually more than seven times the length of the last two segments of the rostrum. The siphunculi are slightly swollen on the apical part and 2.1 to 2.6 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is short and triangular. The body length of apterae is 2.7-4.1 mm.
The large raspberry aphid has a sexual stage in its life cycle and does not host alternate. It feeds on the underside of leaves of raspberry (Rubus idaei).
Amphorophora rubi (Large blackberry aphid)
The apterae are green or yellowish green. The antennal terminal process is usually less than seven times the length of last two segments of the rostrum. The siphunculi are slightly swollen on the apical part and 2.1 to 2.4 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is short and triangular. The body length of apterae is 2.2-4.7 mm.
The large blackberry aphid does not host alternate. It feeds on the underside of leaves of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.) and related Rubus species, but not raspberry (Rubus idaei).
Macrosiphum funestum (Blackberry aphid)
The apterae are a rather dull green or red. The antennae are dark or dusky with darker tips to each segment and are longer than the body. The tips of the tibiae and the ends of the femora are dark. The abdomen has small marginal and antesiphuncular sclerites. The siphunculi are dusky but not black, and have paler bases. They are about 0.33 times the body length, 2.5-3.5 times the length of the cauda and are reticulated on the apical 12-15%. The body length of apterae is 3.0-4.3 mm.
The blackberry aphid does not host alternate but spends its entire life cycle on blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.). It lives mostly on the young shoots and leaves. Sexual forms are produced in autumn and the aphid overwinters as eggs on the blackberry stems.
Sitobion fragariae (Blackberry-grass aphid)
The aptera is spindle-shaped and a dirty yellowish green, with small brown intersegmental sclerites on the abdominal dorsum. The antennae are about the same length as the body, with the basal segments paler than the rest. The siphunculi are about twice as long as the pale pointed cauda and are usually entirely black, although they may have paler bases on the primary host. Compared to Macrosiphum funestum, the siphunculi are shorter relative to the cauda (only 2 ×) and are darker or black. The body length of apterae is 1.6-3.0 mm long.
The blackberry - grass aphid host alternates from blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.) and occasionally other Rosaceae to Grasses (Poaceae) especially Holcus spp. and some Sedges (Carex spp). The eggs hatch in spring and the young nymphs feed on the breaking buds. Colonies build up and in summer alates migrate to cereals and grasses. A return migration takes place in autumn.
Species of berry
We cover three species of berry. By far the commonest is blackberry or bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.) which consists of a species complex including hundreds, if not thousands, of species.
Blackberry plants have sprawling, prickly arched stems. The leaves (pictured above first) have three to five leaflets with white or grey hairy underside. Blackberry is now grown commercially in many countries for the fruit (pictured above second), as is the related red-berried raspberry (Rubus idaeus) (not pictured here). The raspberry has upright stems with fine prickles, sometimes with a whitish bloom.
A third clearly discernible species group is the dewberries. The European dewberry (Rubus caesius) (pictured below) is often restricted to coastal plant communities.
It has short weak prickles and leaves which always have three leaflets. The fruits are a blackish-blue and are coated with a thin layer of waxy droplets appearing sky-blue.
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).
- Blackman, R.L. & Eastop, V.F. Aphids on the world's plants An online identification and information guide. Full text