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Caricosipha paniculatae

Stalk-eyed sedge aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Caricosipha paniculatae are greenish, yellowish or reddish with brown sclerotic patches ( see first picture below) or sometimes completely black dorsally (see second picture below). The antennae, legs, and siphunculi are all pale, as are the eye stalks which bear the prominent compound eyes. The hairs on antennal segment III are up to about 5 times as long as the basal diameter of that segment. The body is flattened and pear-shaped, broadest about the level of abdominal tergite 4 - and the head and pronotum are fused, as are abdominal tergites l-7. The body has many long, black, pointed hairs. The siphunculi are palish, smooth, truncate conical or stump-shaped. The cauda is slightly knobbed.

First image above copyright Poul Ulrik, all rights reserved;
Second image above copyright Stéphane Claerebout, all rights reserved.

Alatae have the dorsal carapace broken into segmental dark bars and marginal sclerites, and the body hairs shorter and thinner than in apterae.

The micrograph below shows a clarified mount of an apterous Caricopsipha paniculatae.

Image copyright Wieczorek et al. (2017) under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Caricosipha paniculatae feeds on sedges (Carex sp.), especially Carex paniculata. There is no host alternation. This species is found throughout Europe.

 

Biology & Ecology

Stalk-eyed sedge aphids live in dense colonies on the upperside of leaves. If disturbed, they run about very fast until the disturbance ceases. This is an unusual predator escape strategy for an aphid - crypsis, or aposematism, or just dropping off the plant are more common approaches.

Image copyright Stéphane Claerebout, all rights reserved.

Their escape strategy may explain the extraordinary stalked eyes. Extending the eye away from the body gives the eye a better field of vision. This will improve the speed at which an aphid will be able to detect a predator - and start running!

 

Other aphids on same host:

Caricosipha paniculatae has been recorded from 22 Carex species.

Blackman & Eastop list 5 species of aphid as feeding on greater tussock-sedge (Carex paniculata) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists all 5 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Poul Ulrik (first image) and to Stéphane Claerebout (second image) for permission to use their pictures; also to Willem Ellis, bladmineerders.nl, for putting us in touch with Stéphane.

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

References

  • Wieczorek, K., Lachowska-Cierlik D., Kajtoch L., Kanturski M. (1997). (2017) The relationships within the Chaitophorinae and Drepanosiphinae (Hemiptera, Aphididae) inferred from molecular-based phylogeny and comprehensive morphological data. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173608. Full text.