Biology, images, analysis, design...
Aphids Find them How to ID AphidBlog
"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important" (Sherlock Holmes)

Search this site

Aphidinae : Aphidini Braggia deserticola


Braggia deserticola

Californian buckwheat aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Braggia deserticola (see first picture below) have the head, prothorax and tergite VIII wax-dusted; abdominal tergite I has reticulations lightly bordered with secreted wax, but the remaining tergites are shining dark brown (cf. Braggia eriogoni, which has much of the dorsum covered with wax-bordered reticulations). The antennae are about 0.62-0.67 times body length. They are mainly dusky or dark, but the basal 0.2-0.5 of segment III is transparent to yellowish. The legs are mostly dark pigmented, but sometimes with part of the tibiae and fore femora rather pale to yellowish. Marginal tubercles on abdominal tergite VII are normally absent (cf. Braggia eriogoni, which has marginal tubercles on tergite VII). Dorsal hairs are short & inconspicuous, at most equal to the basal diameter of antennal segment III (cf. Braggia eriogoni, which has dorsal hairs mainly longer than the basal diameter of antennal segment III). The siphunculi are volcano-shaped to strongly tapering, and are very short, at most about as long as their basal widths (cf. Braggia eriogoni and Braggia urovaneta, which have siphunculi longer than their basal width). The cauda is black, half as long as its basal width, with 7-11, rather inconspicuous hairs. The body length of adult Braggia deserticola apterae is 1.1-1.8 mm. Immatures (some visible in the second picture below) are deep chestnut brown, and are wax dusted.

Images above copyright Jesse Rorabaugh under a public domain (CCO) licence.

The alate Braggia deserticola is black dorsally, and greyish ventrally. The antennae have only the very base of segment III somewhat transparent; segment III bears 9-16 flattish secondary rhinaria, IV has 3-6 rhinaria, & V has 0-4. The abdomen has rather large, darkish, marginal sclerites, pleural intersegmental sclerites, some poorly defined spinal sclerites on tergites III-V and rather narrow dusky bars across tergites VI, VII, & VIII. The siphunculi are much less tapering and much narrower at base than in apterae. The cauda is slightly narrower than in apterae.

First image above copyright Jesse Rorabaugh under a public domain (CCO) licence.
Second image copyright Stan Shebs under a under a Creative Commons License.

Hille Ris Lambers (1966) recognised two subspecies of Braggia deserticola, based primarily on leg colour, albeit Pike (2009) noted that further justification of these subspecies is required.

  • Braggia deserticola ssp. deserticola has the legs completely or nearly black, with the basal half of hind tibiae at most transparent brown. The apical rostral segment is 1.17-1.40 times as long as second joint of hind tarsi, and longer than the base of antennal segment VI.
  • Braggia deserticola ssp. thanatophila has the tibiae pale yellowish, with black socks. The apical rostral segment is 1.00-1.33 times as long as second joint of hind tarsi, subequal to the base of antennal segment VI. This subspecies seems to be found at a higher altitudes in California.

Hille Ris Lambers (1966) found Braggia deserticola in small numbers in flowerheads of California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum, and Eriogonum fasciculatum subsp. polifolium) (see last picture above for hostplant). He notes that Braggia eriogoni was also present, often in larger numbers, on the same plants, but could be easily distinguished from Braggia deserticola because of its waxiness. Colonies are not attended by ants. This is a southern species being found in southern California & Utah in the USA, and in Mexico.


Other aphids on the same host

Braggia deserticola has been recorded on 1 wild buckwheat species (Eriogonum fasciculatum).


We are grateful to Jesse Rorabaugh and Stan Shebs for making their pictures available for use under public domain and creative commons licences respectively.

We have used the keys and species accounts of Hille Ris Lambers (1966) and Pike (2009) along with information from Roger Blackman & Victor Eastop in Aphids on Worlds Plants. We fully acknowledge these authors and those listed in the reference sections 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


  • Hille Ris Lambers, D. (1966). Notes on California aphids, with descriptions of new genera and new species. Hilgardia 97(15), 569-623. Abstract

  • Pike, K.S. et al. (2009). New species of Braggia (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on buckwheat in western North America. The Canadian Entomologist 141(6), 561-581. Full text