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Aphidinae : Aphidini : Aphis viburniphila


Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Aphis viburniphila (see first picture below) are reddish brown mottled with paler shades and marked with darker areas around and behind their siphunculi. They are not dusted with wax (cf. Aphis crassicauda & Ceruraphis viburnicola, which are both wax-dusted). The siphunculi are black and the cauda is dusky. Their antennae and tibiae are whitish to yellow with darkened apices. The femora are mainly brown, but pale basally. Antennal segment III often bears up to 15 small rhinaria, not in a row (cf. Aphis crassicauda, which has no rhinaria on segment III, except in obvious alatiforms). There are rarely any marginal tubercles on abdominal tergites II-IV (cf. Aphis viburni, which always has at least 6 marginal tubercles on those tergites). The tibiae bear long, erect hairs nearly twice as long as the diameter of the tibiae. The cauda is parallel-sided to blunt-tapering, with its length 0.9-1.3 times its basal width (cf. Aphis crassicauda, which has a cauda with length 0.5-0.9 times is basal width). The body length of adult apterae is 1.7-2 mm. Immature Aphis viburniphila (see second picture below) are reddish brown, with distinct darkened areas around the siphuncular bases.

Images above by permission, copyright Claude Pilon, all rights reserved.

A clarified mount of the Aphis viburniphila aptera is shown in the first picture below. Alatae have 20-28 secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III (not in a row), 5-7 on segment IV, and 0-2 on segment V (cf. Aphis crassicauda, the alatae of which have 7-14 secondary rhinaria on segment III in a row, and none on segments IV and V). The second picture below shows what is thought to be an alate of this species.

First image above copyright CBG Photography Group under a CC BY-NC-SA license.
Second image above copyright Beatriz Moisset, via BugGuide, under a Creative Commons license.

Aphis viburniphila feeds on the leaves and stems of some species of Viburnum (see below for details). It does not host alternate, but remains all-year on Viburnum. Note that Aphis viburniphila is not found on blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) so is unlikely to be confused with Aphis illinoisensis. Sexual forms are thought to develop in autumn - oviparae have been found in October, but males have so far not been recorded. Aphis viburniphila is widely distributed in North America.


Biology & Ecology

Ant attendance

Aphis viburniphila is not reported to be ant attended in the literature (e.g. Palmer, 1952; Hottes & Frison, 1931), but those photographed by Claude Pilon (and confirmed by Eric Maw) were ant-attended (see pictures below).

Image above by permission, copyright Claude Pilon, all rights reserved.

The aphids in the picture below are also (we think) Aphis viburniphila - the only other similarly coloured aphid recorded on arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) is Aphis crassicauda - which, unlike Aphis viburniphila, is wax dusted. The ant attendance was photographed by Beatriz Moisset in Pennsylvania, USA.

Image above copyright Beatriz Moisset under a Creative Commons license.

Natural enemies

The only natural enemy of Aphis viburniphila, recorded in Quebec, was a parasitic trombidiid mite shown in the picture below attached to a fourth instar Aphis viburniphila).

Image above by permission, copyright Claude Pilon, all rights reserved.

In Pennsylvania, Beatriz Moisset describes Aphis viburniphila colonies which had ants tending them at the same time as syrphid larvae were eating the aphids (see pictures below of aphid colony with ants and syrphid larva). She commented that the larvae must have some clever way to disguise themselves from the ants. See Bachtold & Del Claro (2013) for similar observations, and Lohman et al. (2006) for a discussion of the mechanisms by which predators circumvent attack by otherwise aggressive ants.

Images above copyright Beatriz Moisset under a Creative Commons license.

Beatriz Moisset also found some mummies, from which hymenopteran parasitoids emerged - one of which is shown below.

Image above copyright Beatriz Moisset under a Creative Commons license.


Other aphids on the same host

Aphis viburniphila has been recorded on 6 species of Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium, Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum nudum var cassinoides, Viburnum opulus, Viburnum plicatum, Viburnum rafinesquianum).


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

We have made provisional identifications from high resolution photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity. Identifications have been confirmed by microscopic examination of preserved specimens. We have used the keys and species accounts of Palmer (1952) and Hottes & Frison (1931) supplemented with 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


  • 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

  • Lohman, D.J. et al. (2006). Convergence of chemical mimicry in a guild of aphid predators. Ecological Entomology 31(1), 41-51. 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. Thomas Say Foundation, Denver. Full text

  • Bächtold, A. & Del-Claro, K. (2013). Predatory behavior of Pseudodorus clavatus (Diptera, Syrphidae) on aphids tended by ants. Rev. Bras. entomol. 57(4). Full text