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Aphididae : Calaphidinae : Calaphidini : Callipterinella


Genus Callipterinella

Banded birch aphids

On this page: Callipterinella calliptera minutissima tuberculata

Genus Callipterinella [Calaphidini]

Callipterinella aphids are small to medium-sized, and the viviparae may be winged or wingless. They are very variable in colour from green to brown, yellow or reddish commonly with a brown vertex to the head and usually other dark dorsal bands or spots. The body is covered with long strong hairs and the antennae are shorter than the body. The cauda is constricted and knobbed, and the siphunculi are short and dark with rows of minute spinules. Winged forms have the wing venation strongly marked.

Callipterinella is a genus of three species, all of which live on Birch (Betula) leaves or growing shoots. Colonies may be dispersed or aggregated. They have a sexual stage in their life cycle, but do not host alternate. Callipterinella are usually attended by ants.


Callipterinella calliptera (Black banded birch aphid) Europe, Asia, North America

Callipterinella calliptera apterae (see first picture below) are yellowish green to bluish-green, usually with dark transverse bands on all tergites. The antennal terminal process is about 1.75 times the length of the base of the last antennal segment. The body length of Callipterinella calliptera apterae is 1.5-2.5 mm.

Alates (see second picture above) have dorsal markings less well developed. Immature Callipterinella calliptera are yellowish-green with rows of dark tubercles on the abdominal dorsum.

Black banded birch aphids are found in ant-attended groups on the young shoots and under leaves of birch (Betula spp.), sometimes inside leaves sewn up by lepidopterous larvae. Callipterinella calliptera is found on both silver birch (Betula pendula) and downy birch (Betula pubescens) in Europe, and on other birch species in east Asia. Oviparae and alate males occur in September-October. It occurs throughout Europe and across Asia, and has been introduced to North America.



Callipterinella minutissima (Birch catkin aphid) Europe, Central Asia, North America

Adult apterae of Callipterinella minutissima (see first picture below) are very small, stout, oval-bodied, green to yellowish-green. A white tuft of wax is often present below the cauda. The antennae of apterae are only 5-segmented, and are 0.25-0.33 times the body length (cf. Callipterinella tuberculata and Callipterinella calliptera, which have 6-segmented antennae, which are more than 0.5 times body length). The terminal process is 1.2-1.8 times the length of the base of antennal segment VI (cf. Betulaphis quadrituberculata, which has the terminal process as long as or slightly shorter than the base of segment VI). The antennae bear no secondary rhinaria. Abdominal tergite VIII has a dark transverse bar; other tergites have very small scleroites bearing long, fine, pointed hairs. The siphunculi are small dark truncate cones, without hairs. The apterae are very small with a body length of only 0.9-1.4 mm. Immature Callipterinella minutissima are pale yellow-green.

Images above copyright Andrew Jensen under a cc by-nc-sa licence

The alate Callipterinella minutissima vivipara (see second picture above) has a greenish abdomen. The antennae are 6-segmented, 0.4-0.8 times the body length with a terminal process that is 1.3-1.5 times the base of antennal segment VI, and 5-8 secondary rhinaria on segment III. The alate is larger than the apterous female with a body length of 1.5-1.9 mm.

Callipterinella minutissima is monoecious holocyclic feeding on several birch (Betula) species. When the buds burst in spring, they feed inside bud scales and developing leaves, moving to the female catkins in summer and leaf undersides in autumn. Oviparae and alate males occur on the leaves in September-November. Callipterinella minutissima is found in Western, Central & Southern Europe and Central Asia, although it seems to be rare in most European countries. It has been introduced into western North America.



Callipterinella tuberculata (Red banded birch aphid) Europe, Asia

Callipterinella tuberculata apterae are usually yellowish with a brown head, a reddish-brown dorsal band over the front of the abdomen and a dark quadratic patch on abdominal tergites 4-6. However, the dark markings are very variable. The dorsum has dark, strong hairs and spinules on each segment. The antennae may have five or six segments. The antennal terminal process is 1.7-2.8 times longer than the base of the last antennal segment. The siphunculi are dusky with rows of small spinules. The cauda is very short with only a slight constriction. The body length of Callipterinella tuberculata apterae is 2.3-2.5 mm.

Winged forms of Callipterinella tuberculata have reddish brown patches on the dorsum of the first abdominal segment and irregular small brown sclerites on posterior abdominal tergites, but no transverse bands.

Red banded birch aphids are found in colonies on young growth and scattered on older leaves of silver birch (Betula pendula). In Europe they are restricted to this one species of birch, but in Siberia apterous Callipterinella with a dorsal quadrate patch similar to Callipterinella tuberculata have been found on several different Betula species. Apterous males and oviparae are found in September. This species is found across Europe and (probably) in East Siberia and China.



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


  • Stroyan, H.L.G. (1977). Homoptera: Aphidoidea (Part) - Chaitophoridae and Callaphidae. Handbooks for the identification of British insects. 2 (4a) Royal Entomological Society of London. Full text