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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Lipaphis erysimi


Lipaphis erysimi

Wild crucifer aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Lipaphis erysimi are small to medium sized yellowish green, grey green or olive green aphids, with a faint white wax bloom. The aptera (see first picture below) has two rows of dark bands on the thorax and abdomen which unite into a single band near the tip of the abdomen. The antennal terminal process is 0.8-1.15 times times the length of the siphunculi (cf. Lipaphis alliariae which has the antennal terminal process 1.2-1.35 the length of the siphunculi). The combined length of antennal segment III and the terminal process is usually less than 2.4 times the length of the siphunculus (cf. Lipaphis pseudobrassicae in which that combined length is usually more than 2.4 times as long as the siphunculus). The siphunculi are paler than the cauda and have dark tips. The body length of adult Lipaphis erysimi apterae is 1.4-2.4 mm.

Second image: Lipaphis erysimi alate, copyright Alan Outen & Rothamsted Research, all rights reserved.

Alatae (see second picture above) have a black head and thorax and a dusky green abdomen with black bands near the tip and conspicuous dark marginal sclerites. The body length of Lipaphis erysimi alatae is 1.4-2.2 mm. The clarified slide mounts below are of adult viviparous female Lipaphis erysimi : wingless, and winged.

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

The wild crucifer aphid does not host alternate. It feeds on various different Brassicaceae, including Brassica, Raphanus, and Sinapis spp., although it is not usually found on field Brassica crops. It lives on the undersides of leaves as well as on inflorescences, young shoots and growing points. Males have been found in some countries. Lipaphis erysimi is confined to Britain and northern continental Europe.


Biology & Ecology

Lipaphis erysimi is usually regarded as a relatively common aphid in Britain, but until recently we have found it to be rather scarce in southern England. Then in mid-October 2018 we found colonies of wild crucifer aphid on seed heads of hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale, see picture below).

Despite the lateness of the year, there was no sign of any sexual forms and the aphids were reproducing viviparously (see picture below).

Several of the colonies were comprised mainly of immatures (see picture below).

Then in late October we found much bigger colonies of Lipaphis erysimi on seedheads of shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). These however were mixed species colonies comprised of Lipaphis erysimi, Aphis fabae and Myzus persicae (see picture below).

These mixed-species colonies of aphids on the seedheads of shepherd's purse were still present up till late November.


Other aphids on same host:

  • Lipaphis erysimi has been recorded on 2 species of Brassica: Brassica nigra (black mustard) and Brassica rapa (whose cultivated subspecies include the turnip, napa cabbage, bomdong, bok choy, and cime di rapa. Brassica rapa oleifera, an oilseed, includes turnip rape, field mustard, bird rape, and keblock). Note: Lipaphis erysimi has yet to be recorded on Brassica oleracea (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, kohlrabi).

    Blackman & Eastop list 25 species of aphid as feeding on Brassica species worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 21 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

  • Lipaphis erysimi has been recorded on 3 species of Sinapis: Sinapis alba (white mustard), Sinapis arvensis (charlock mustard, field mustard, wild mustard) and Sinapis flexuosa.

    Blackman & Eastop list 15 species of aphid as feeding on those 3 species, and all Sinapis worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 12 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

  • Lipaphis erysimi has been recorded on 2 Raphanus species: Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish) and Raphanus sativus (cultivated radish).

    Blackman & Eastop list 18 species of aphid as feeding on those 2 species, and all Raphanus worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 15 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


We especially thank Alan Outen, Bedfordshire Invertebrate Group, and Chris Shortall, Rothamsted Research, for permission to reproduce Alan's photo of a Lipaphis erysimi alate and for information about the colony.

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).

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