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Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Brachyunguis tamaricis are light green with a reddish area around the siphuncular bases (see two pictures below). They have a rather patchy coverage of light grey wax, which gives them a velvety grey-green appearance and obscures the reddish patches. Their antennae are 5- or 6-segmented. When 6-segmented, antennal segment III is about as long as antennal segment VI or shorter (cf. Brachyunguis tamaricophilus which, when the antennae are 6-segmented, has antennal segment III much longer than segment VI). The apical rostral segment (R IV+V) is 0.6-0.75 times as long as the second hind tarsal segment (HT II) (cf. Brachyunguis tamaricophilus, for which R IV+V is 0.8-0.9 times the length of HT II). The siphunculi of Brachyunguis tamaricis are rather short, only 0.63-1.0 times as long as the cauda. The cauda is finger-like (cf. Brachyunguis tamaricophilus, which has a triangular cauda). The body length of adult Brachyunguis tamaricis apterae is 0.9-1.7 mm.

Images above copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

The alate Brachyunguis tamaricis may be less heavily waxed than the aptera (but this is based on the single pictured specimen). They have 2-8 secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III, 0-2 on segment IV and 0-1 on segment V.

Images above copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

Brachyunguis tamaricis feed only on tamarisk (Tamarix species). Sexual forms (oviparae and apterous males) have been recorded in Europe (France & Portugal) in autumn. They may be attended by ants. Brachyunguis tamaricis occurs in south, central and eastern Europe (not in Britain), North Africa and south-west and central Asia.

 

Biology & Ecology

Life cycle

Brachyunguis tamaricis does not host alternate, but remains on the same host (tamarisk) throughout the year. The population overwinters in the egg stage, and fundatrices have been found in Turkmenistan on the host in spring.

The picture below shows a fourth-instar alatoid nymph of Brachyunguis tamaricis.

Image above copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

There is no information available on population trends through the year, but sexual forms have been recorded in France and Portugal in autumn.

Ant attendance

Brachyunguis tamaricis colonies are often attended by ants.

Image above copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

Akyildrim et al. (2014) reported that Brachyunguis tamaricis was attended by the ant Formica cinereofusca. Tetramorium ants have also been found attending this species.

Natural enemies

Starý (1976) recorded Lysiphlebus fabarum as a parasitoid of Brachyunguis tamaricis. Kos et al. (1976) recorded Ephedrus persicae as a parasitoid of Brachyunguis tamaricis. Lumbierres et al. (2005) reported parasitism of Brachyunguis tamaricis by Ephedrus persicae in May, and by Lysiphlebus testaceipes in October-November.

Image above copyright Dr László Érsek, all rights reserved.

Most Brachyunguis species in Eurasia gain a degree of protection from predators from their waxy coat. This may be the case for Brachyunguis tamaricis, although the picture above shows two mature coccinellid (Harmonia axyridis) larvae predating these aphids.

 

Other aphids on the same host

Brachhyunguis tamaricis occurs on 11 species of Tamarix (and, possibly, on an identified Ephedra species).

Blackman & Eastop list 13 species of aphid as feeding on tamarisk (Tamarix species) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 6 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Dr László Érsek for the images shown above.

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).

Useful weblinks

References

  • Akyildirim, H. et al. (2014). Determined aphid and ant associations from Trabzon Rize and Artvin Provinces of Turkey. Journal of the Entomological Research Society 16, 29-37. Full text

  • Kos, K.et al. (2012). Aphidiinae (Hymenoptera, Braconidae, Aphidiinae) from Slovenia, with description of a new Aphidius species. Zootaxa 3456, 36-50. Full text

  • Lumbierres et al. (2005). Parasitoids and predators of aphids associated with public green areas of Lleida (NE Iberian Peninsula). Zootaxa 3456, 36-50. Full text

  • Starý, P. (1976).. Aphid Parasites (Hymenoptera, Aphidiidae) of the Mediterranean Area. Dr Junk, The Hague.