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Aphidinae : Aphidini : Aphis ulmariae


Aphis ulmariae

Small meadowsweet aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Aphis ulmariae live in pseudogalls comprised of the more or less curled terminal leaves of meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmariae, see first picture below). Adult apterae are generally described as mottled dark green in life but (as the second picture below shows) some are yellow mottled with green, similar to the colour variation shown by its closest relative Aphis ruborum. They are not wax coated. The antennal terminal process is 2.0-2.6 times as long as the base of antennal segment VI (cf. Aphis ruborum, which has a terminal process 2.5-3.6 times the length of the base of that segment). The apical rostral segment (RIV+V) is 1.13-1.45 times the length of the second hind tarsal segment (HTII). The dorsal abdominal sclerotic pattern may be absent, or reduced to dusky bands on tergites VII & VIII. The siphunculi are rather pale dusky, darkening slightly from base to apex, and 1.15-2.00 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is bluntly subtriangular to elongate tongue-shaped. The usual body length of adult Aphis ulmariae apterae is 1.4-2.4 mm, but summer dwarfs are only 1.1-1.4 mm.

Images above by permission copyright Mark Wilson, all rights reserved.

Alatae of Aphis ulmariae have marginal and postsiphuncular sclerites, narrow bands across tergites VII-VIII, and occasionally sclerites on one or more of tergites I-VI.

Aphis ulmariae lives on meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) with no host alternation. It has also been recorded from Spiraea salicifolia. Early in the year it lives in crumpled leaf pseudogalls, later moving to the inflorescence which is changed to a tight bunch. The aphids are usually attended by ants, which nevertheless leave the aphids rapidly if disturbed. Sexuales are produced in autumn. The males are alate, and oviparae have moderately swollen hind tibiae. Stroyan (1984), considered the species rare in Britain, with it only having been recorded from Surrey, Berkshire, Cambridge and Caernarvon. The aphids shown here were found in Berkshire. Aphis ulmariae is distributed throughout most of Europe into west and east Siberia, Kazakhstan and Korea. It was recorded in North America, but Footit (2006) established that at least some of these records were misidentifications.


Other aphids on the same host

Aphis ulmariae has been recorded from 4 Filipendula species (Filipendula camtschatica, Filipendula palmata, Filipendula ulmaria, Filipendula vulgaris).


We are very grateful to Mark Wilson for permitting us to use his photos of Aphis ulmariae.

We have made provisional identifications from 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


  • Footit, R.G. et al. (2006). Adventive aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) of America north of Mexico. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 108(3), 583-6103. Full text