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Genus Hyalopterus

Mealy plum - reed aphids

On this page: Genus Hyalopterus Hyalopterus humilis Hyalopterus pruni

Genus Hyalopterus [Aphidini]

Hyalopterus are small to medium sized elongate aphids, the adult viviparae of which may be winged or wingless. They are usually pale green mottled with darker green and most are covered with a white waxy meal. The antennae are shorter than the body, and the siphunculi are very short, thicker and darker towards their tips. The cauda is markedly longer than the siphunculi.

Hyalopterus are a small genus, with only 3 species. They may retain the sexual stage in the life cycle and alternate between plum (Prunus species) in winter/spring and common reed (Phragmites) in summer, or may live year round on either host. Hyalopterus aphids are not attended by ants. One species is an important pest of plum trees, which are affected by fungi growing on the honeydew-coated leaves.


Hyalopterus humilis (Cocksfoot aphid)

The yellowish-brown feeding damage along the midline of the cocksfoot grass leaf, visible on both sides of the leaf (see first picture below), is characteristic. The adult aptera of Hyalopteroides humilis (see second picture below) is medium sized elongate-oval pale yellowish green. The dorsal cuticle is rugosely sculptured and is not mealy. The antennae are shorter than the body. Antennal tubercles are well developed but rather low and have a small pointed process on the inner side of each of them, projecting forwards, with a hair on top of it. The median frontal tubercle is flat. The siphunculi are very small and thin, about 0.3-0.4 times the length of the cauda, with a barely visible apical flange. The cauda is long, tongue-shaped and blunt.

The alate Hyalopteroides humilis (see third picture above) is also pale yellowish green with no abdominal markings. The head, antennae, legs, siphunculi and cauda are darker than in the aptera, and the wing veins are weakly brown-bordered.

The cocksfoot aphid (Hyalopteroides humilis) lives along the midline on the uppersides of leaves of cocksfoot grass (Dactylis glomerata). There is no host alternation and the aphid is not attended by ants. Males have been recorded, but most populations have probably lost the sexual stage in the life cycle. Hyalopteroides humilis is found in Europe east to Russia and in North America.



Hyalopterus pruni (Mealy plum aphid, reed aphid)

The Hyalopterus pruni aptera is a small to medium sized aphid, 1.5 - 2.6 mm long, with an elongate shape. It is usually pale green with a fine darker green mottling, covered with wax meal (see first picture below), but on the summer host (reeds) there are dusky red as well as green forms (see second picture below). The antennae are quite short, between 0.5 - 0.75 times the body length. The siphunculi are very short, and are thicker and darker towards the apex; they are also flangeless and rounded at apex. The cauda is 1.5 - 3.0 times longer than the siphunculi.

The Hyalopterus pruni winged form (see third picture above) has the head and thorax blackish and the abdominal dorsum pale green, with a distinctly pigmented band across tergite 8 and traces of dark sclerites on tergites 6-7.

The mealy plum aphid host alternates between its winter host - Prunus species (mainly plum but also especially apricot, and perhaps peach or almond) and its summer host - mainly reeds (Phragmites), but also giant cane (Arundo donax) and some other wetland grasses. Some remain on plum all the year round. Hyalopterus pruni is cosmopolitan, but may have geographical races or subspecies.



We have made provisional 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. (1984). Aphids - Pterocommatinae and Aphidinae (Aphidini). Handbooks for the identification of British insects. 2(6). Royal Entomological Society of London.