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Dysaphis newskyi

Hogweed mealy root aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

Colonies of Dysaphis newskyi are attended by ants which tent the colony on the basal parts of Heracleum sphondylium (hogweed), often covering it with a dense coat of soil and vegetable matter (see first picture below). Adult apterae of Dysaphis newskyi are pinkish to lilac grey and wax dusted. Hairs on the third antennal segment are maximally 27-56 μm long, distinctly longer and more acute than those on abdominal tergite 3. The antennae always have secondary rhinaria with 12-55 on segment III, 0-20 on IV and 0-3 on V (cf. Dysaphis lauberti which only has secondary rhinaria in alatiform apterae with dark cross bands on abdominal tergites I-IV). Abdominal tergite VII almost always has a pair of marginal tubercles (cf. Dysaphis lauberti which rarely has marginal tubercles on abdominal tergite VII). The siphunculi are 1.2 - 2.6 times the length of the cauda. The body length of Dysaphis newskyi apterae is 1-5-2.7 mm.

The micrograhs below show an adult aptera of Dysaphis newskyi , dorsal & ventral, in alcohol.

The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Dysaphis newskyi : wingless, and winged.

Micrographs of clarified mounts by permission of Roger Blackman, copyright AWP all rights reserved.

Dysaphis newskyi does not host alternate, but lives all year round on hogweed (Heracleum spp.). It can be found in ant-attended colonies on the basal leaf sheaths and root collar of its host. The species has been found in Britain, Austria and Italy and more recently in Poland and Finland.


Biology & Ecology:

Dysaphis newskyi is the only non host-alternating Dysaphis found on hogweed (Heracleum spp.) in Britain. The other species host-alternate with hawthorn. Hogweed (see picture below) is fairly easy to distinguish from other umbellifers by the unequal petal sizes on flowers near the outside of the umbel.

Dysaphis newskyi is seldom recorded in Britain, and our record is the first for southern England. Baker (2009) found it in Wales feeding at the root collar of Heracleum sphondylium in Porthkerry Park, Barry. The aphids were sheltered and attended by Lasius niger and Myrmica ruginodis. Blackman (2014) notes it has also been found in north-east England and Scotland.

The picture above shows a (rather disturbed) colony of the hogweed mealy root aphid that we found at Winchester Beach in East Sussex.

The nymphs are a rather beautiful pinkish-yellow colour. Those below were living protected in a cavity in the hogweed root.

Hansen et al. (2006) noted that Dysaphis newskyi was one of the few insects that is monophagous on Heracleum species, and hence potentially valuable as a natural enemy of the invasive giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum).


Other aphids on same host:

Dysaphis newskyi has been recorded from 4 Heracleum species (Heracleum austriacum, Heracleum dissectum, Heracleum sibiricum, Heracleum sphondylium).

Blackman & Eastop list more than 33 species of aphid as feeding on Heracleum species worldwide, and provide formal identification keys.

Of those, Baker (2015) lists 20 as occurring in Britain: Anuraphis subterranea, Aphis brohmeri, Aphis fabae, Aphis spiraecola, Cavariella aegopodii, Cavariella archangelicae, Cavariella konoi, Cavariella pastinacae, Cavariella theobaldi, Dysaphis crataegi group, Dysaphis lauberti, Dysaphis newskyi, Hyadaphis foeniculi, Hyadaphis passerinii, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, Macrosiphum gei, Myzus ascalonicus, Myzus ornatus, Myzus persicae and Paramyzus heraclei.


We especially thank King John's Nursery, East Sussex, for their kind assistance, and permission to sample.

Our particular thanks to Roger Blackman for images of his clarified slide mounts.

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


  • Baker, E.A. (2009). Observations of aphids (Aphidoidea) new to Wales. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History 22, 235-246. Abstract

  • Hansen, S.O. et al. (2006). Phytophagous insects of giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum (Apiaceae) in invaded areas of Europe and in its native areas of the Caucasus. European Journal of Entomology 103, 387-395. Full text