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Identification & Distribution:

Apterae of Aphis ballotae are dark grey-blue to mottled green. Their dorsum is membranous, sometimes with a small postsiphuncular sclerite. The siphunculi are black, and 1.33-1.95 times as long as the dark finger-shaped cauda.. The body length is 1.0-2.0 mm. Aphis ballotae is a member of the Aphis frangulae complex, difficult to distinguish from other members except by biology and host plant.

The alate Aphis ballotae has rather large marginal and postsiphuncular sclerites, short bars across tergites 7-8 and usually a conspicuous rather squarish sclerite on tergite 6 between the siphunculi.

Aphis ballotae lives on the stems and undersides of leaves of Ballota spp. especially Ballota nigra (horehound) causing slight downward leaf-curl in early summer. It does not host alternate. Sexual forms occur in autumn and the males are alate. The horehound aphid is very little recorded in Britain, having formerly only been found in six counties (now seven with our Mar. 2014 find in East Sussex), but it is is found throughout Europe (except Scandinavia), and eastward to Crimea, Iran and Turkey.

 

Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 7 species of aphid as feeding on Ballota species (specifically horehound, Ballota nigra) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 6 as occurring in Britain: Aphis ballotae, Aulacorthum solani, Cryptomyzus alboapicalis, Cryptomyzus ballotae, Myzus ornatus, and Ovatomyzus sp. (chamaedrys?).

Acknowledgements

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 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).

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