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Hormaphidinae : Cerataphidini : Cerataphis orchidearum


Cerataphis orchidearum

Fringed orchid aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Cerataphis orchidearum (see two pictures below) are blackish or dark reddish brown, surrounded by a fringe of wax tendrils, and with the dorsum dusted with powdered wax. Antennae are fuscous, darkening gradually towards the apices, and legs are dusky with dark tarsi. The body is flat and circular with crenulated margins. The frons has two pointed processes or 'horns', shorter than second hind tarsal segment, and also filimentous frontal setae (cf. Cerataphis brasiliensis on palms, which has 2 thick, short, lance-shaped, frontal setae). The antennae are about 0.15 times as long as the body, and are 4- or 5-segmented. The rostrum reaches to the middle coxae. The apical rostral segment (RIV+V) is almost equal in length to the second hind tarsal segment (HTII) (cf. Cerataphis lataniae on coconut palms, which has RIV+V 0.67-0.75 times HTII). There are rather long, fine hairs on the head and body and around the siphuncular pores. The longest hairs are on tergite VIII, the cauda and the anal plate. These hairs are 0.6-0.8 times as long as the width of the siphuncular pores. The legs are very short, but the tarsi are not reduced. The siphuncular pores are distinct, placed on low cones. The cauda bears 10-16 hairs. The body length of adult Cerataphis orchidearum apterae is 1.0-1.7 mm.

Note: In the past this species has sometimes been confused with the palm aphid Cerataphis lataniae which, in turn, has been confused with another palm aphid, Cerataphis brasiliensis (albeit there are no reliable records of either from orchids). Early records of Cerataphis lataniae on orchids were probably Cerataphis orchidearum (and the latter is not recorded from palms).

First image above copyright Sharon Reid, all rights reserved;
Second image copyright Tim Eisele under a creative commons licence.

Immature Cerataphis orchidearum (second picture below) are pale green with darker green markings, and look rather more 'aphid-like' than their adults, though still with a fringe of wax.

The alate (not pictured) has a yellowish abdomen. The frons lacks 'horns', and the antennae are about 0.4 times the body length. Antennal segment III is at most 1.25 times longer than segments IV and V combined. There are about 20-30 ringlike secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III, and 8-15 each on segments IV & V. The cauda has 10 hairs (rarely less). Siphuncular pores are present. The body is 1.6-2.3 mm long.

First image copyright Simbaqueba et al. (2014) under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0;
Second image copyright Sharon Reid, all rights reserved.

Cerataphis orchidearum is found on various types of orchids (Orchidaceae). Earlier records of Cerataphis lataniae from orchids are thought to refer to this species. It inhabits the leaves, and sometimes the flowers of various orchids. The sexual phase is not known in this aphid, and all populations appear to anholocyclic. Alates are very scarce. The fringed orchid aphid is widely distributed in the tropics, and in glasshouses in temperate climates.


Other aphids on the same host

Cerataphis orchidearum has been recorded on 2 Dendrobium species (Dendrobium gracilicaule, Dendrobium mutabile).

Cerataphis orchidearum has been recorded on 2 Epidendrum species (Epidendrum ramosum, Epidendrum secundum).


Damage and control

On orchids Cerataphis orchidearum are found feeding on the buds and flowers, and also on other succulent new and growing tissues such as the leaves, sheaths, and flower parts. Damage to the plants is due to repeated insertion and probing, as well as by nutrient removal. Feeding debilitates the plant and can cause generalized yellowing, and distorted leaves and flowers. As well as direct feeding damage, aphids may transmit plant viruses, although this is not thought to be a serious problem for orchids. A wide range of insecticides are available for aphid control but where conditions are manipulated, as in greenhouses, biological or integrated control offer better options. For more regarding aphid control on orchids see St Augustine Orchid Society.


We are grateful to Sharon Reid and Tim Eisele for permitting us to reproduce their images of Cerataphis orchidearum; also to Simbaqueba et al. (2014) for publishing their paper under a creative commons licence.

We have used the species accounts given by Holman (1974), Eastop (1965) and Heie (1980), together 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 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


  • Eastop, V.F. (1965). A taxonomic study of Australian Aphidoidea (Homoptera). Australian Journal of Zoology 14, 399-592 (p. 531).

  • Heie, O.E. (1980). The Aphidoidea (Hemiptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. I. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 9, p.88.

  • Holman, J. (1974). Los Áfidos de Cuba. 304 pp Instituto Cubano del Libro

  • Simbaqueba, R., Serna, F. & Posada-Flórez, F.J. (2014). Curation, morphology and identification of aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) of the UNAB Entomological Museum. First approximation. Bol. Cient. Mus. Hist. Nat. U. de Caldas, 18(1): 222-246. Full text