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Aphidinae : Aphidini : Aphis lantanae


Aphis lantanae

Wayfaring Tree aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Early in the year Aphis lantanae live in curled leaf pseudogalls (see first picture below) of the wayfaring tree (Lantana viburnum), later moving to the young stems, pedicels and senescent leaves. The apterae of Aphis lantanae are dark greenish-brown, and are not wax-powdered (see second picture below). Larger specimens have dark bands across tergites 6-8 and shorter bars on some or most of the other tergites whilst smaller specimens have much of the dorsum membranous except for bands on tergites VII-VIII (see variation in banding in third picture below) (cf. Ceruraphis eriophori, which always has a dark sclerotic dorsal shield). The antennal terminal process is 3.58-4.17 times the length of the base of segment VI. The longest hairs on antennal segment III are exceptionally long and fine being 2.45-3.47 times the basal diameter of segment III (cf. Aphis fabae, which has the longest hairs on this segment 0.8-2.4 times the basal diameter of segment III). The nominate subspecies Aphis lantanae lantanae has few or no marginal tubercles on abdominal tergites II-IV (cf. Aphis lantanae coriaria, which has 1-6 marginal tubercles on those tergites, and Aphis viburni, which has 6-9 marginal tubercles on those tergites). The siphunculi are black and are 0.87-1.82 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is rather short and bluntly tapering. The body length of Aphis lantanae apterae is 1.5-2.1 mm.

Note: On the taxonomic side, Jorg & Lampel (1995) carried out vertical starch gel electrophoresis of members of the Aphis fabae complex including Aphis lantanae to find specific isozymic characters. Each of the 18 taxa investigated could be clearly identified by analysis of the banding patterns of 17 genetic loci.

The alate of Aphis lantanae (see second picture below) has similar dark bands across most tergites as well as well developed marginal sclerites.

The wayfaring tree aphid does not host alternate. It feeds on wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana) living in curled leaves, on young stems or under senescing leaves. They are sometimes attended by ants. Aphis lantanae is a local species in Britain - previously only recorded in Kent and Hertford, and latterly in East Sussex. In continental Europe it has been found in France, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.

Our observations are the first records of Aphis lantanae in East Sussex.
First observed in Sussexby: Influential Points May 2011 & 2015at: Anscombe Bottom, and Plumpton College, East Sussex
June, September, November 2018Malling Down, East Sussex


Biology & Ecology:

Life cycle

The overwintering eggs on wayfaring tree hatch in March/April. We have found quite large colonies of both apterae and alatae present in May in two nearby locations (Anscombe Bottom and Plumpton College) on the South Downs in East Sussex. In one instance an alate was found larvipositing on a leaf.

On the other occasion we found colonies of aphids on the pedicels of the developing fruit as shown below.

Each colony comprised a mixture of apterae and alates (see picture below). The apterae varied in colour between dark reddish-brown and greenish black.

In 2018 we made repeated visits to trees hosting colonies of Aphis lantanae at Malling Down nature reserve (East Sussex) in June, September and November. The appearance in life of adult apterae in June is shown in images at the top of this page. By September some of the morphs in the colonies appeared rather different (see picture below).

Most apterae were reddish brown and had lost their sclerotized dorsal bands. Such reduced sclerotization was expected in late summer populations as aphids on deciduous trees in late summer tend to be smaller as a result of the reduced availability of soluble nitrogen, and Stroyan (1984) noted that smaller Aphis lantanae adults had greatly reduced banding.

But another difference was that they had 6 marginal tubercles on tergites II-IV (clearly visible in the picture above) which should not be present in the British subspecies of Aphis lantanae. It is more suggestive of Aphis viburni which Stroyan (1984) does not give as occurring on wayfaring tree in Britain (albeit Blackman does include it). The alatae and immatures (see picture below) had not changed their appearance, the alatae being dark green with fairly well developed dorsal bands. We remain uncertain of the identity of these aphids and would welcome any suggestions.

Our last visit of the year was in November when we found oviparae on the same trees. These were readily identifiable as Aphis lantanae given their strongly swollen hind tibiae (see two pictures below).

Theobald (1927) in Stroyan (1984), notes that their oviparae have 'very thick hind tibiae bearing many scent plaques' unlike the oviparae of Aphis viburni which have 'barely thickened hind tibiae'.

Ant attendance

Aphis lantanae are sometimes attended by ants, but their attendance is not as close as it is with many other ant-attended species. Disturbance of the pseudogall or the colony tends to result in the rapid departure of the ants, rather than any attempt to defend the aphids.

At Malling Down Nature Reserve in East Sussex colonies were attended by Lasius ants (see picture above), probably the black garden ant (Lasius niger).


Other aphids on same host:

Blackman & Eastop list 7 species of aphid as feeding on wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 5 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


We especially thank Plumpton College for their kind assistance, and permission to sample.

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


  • Jorg, E. & Lampel, G. (1996). Enzyme electrophoretic studies on the Aphis fabae group. Journal of Applied Entomology 120(1-5), 7-18. Full text