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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Macrosiphum hellebori


Macrosiphum hellebori

Hellebore aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

Macrosiphum hellebori apterae (see first picture below) are yellowish green with darker marbling, with dark apices to the antennal segments, femora, tibiae and siphunculi (cf. Macrosiphum euphorbiae in which the femora are entirely pale or slightly dusky distally). The terminal process of antennal segment VI is 6.4-7.9 times the length of its base. The fused apical segment of the rostrum (RIV+V) is 0.8 times the length of the second hind tarsal segment. The siphunculi are 2.2-2.8 times the length of the rather thick and blunt cauda.

The Macrosiphum hellebori alate (see second picture above) has the head and thorax brown with rather faint marginal sclerites. The siphunculi are mainly dusky or dark, apart from the base which is pale.

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

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

Macrosiphum hellebori lives in sometimes large colonies on the undersides of leaves of Helleborus spp. On mainland Europe it overwinters in the egg stage and oviparae and alate males are found in autumn. In Britain it overwinters mainly as viviparae. Macrosiphum hellebori is found in Europe and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia.


Biology & Ecology

We have found Macrosiphum hellebori to be a common resident on hellebores in southern England. It is present throughout the year continuing to reproduce parthenogenetically throughout the winter months.

In January 2018 we found an unusual yellow variety of Macrosiphum hellebori on some stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) at Plumpton College in Stanmer.


Other aphids on same host:

Macrosiphum hellebori has been recorded from 8 Helleborus species.

Blackman & Eastop list 4 species of aphid as feeding on hellebores (Helleborus) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists all 4 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


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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