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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Macrosiphum lilii


Macrosiphum lilii

Purple-spotted lily aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Macrosiphum lilii (see first picture below) are yellow to yellow-orange, with the anterior half of the abdominal dorsum red. Antennal segments I-II are pale, but segments III-VI are dusky or dark. The secondary rhinaria on segment III are limited to the basal half or less (cf. Macrosiphum perchumani on Convallaria, which has the rhinaria scattered over almost the entire length). The antennae are set on prominent antennal tubercles, but the median frontal tubercle is small or undeveloped. The longest hairs on antennal segment III are 0.6-1.0 times the basal diameter of that segment. The apical rostral segment (RIV+V) is 0.8-1.1 times the length of the second hind tarsal segment (HTII). There is no sclerotization on the abdominal dorsum (cf. Macrosiphum badium & Macrosiphum insularis on Maianthemum, and Macrosiphum wilsoni on Disporum, all of which have the dorsum sclerotized and 'leathery') . The legs are mainly pale, with darkened 'knees', distal tibial apices and tarsi. The siphunculi are entirely black, contrasting with the pale yellow cauda (cf. Macrosiphum euphorbiae, which has the siphunculi pale like the cauda, albeit sometimes darker distally). The siphunculi are a little under twice as long as the cauda. The body length of adult Macrosiphum lilii apterae is 2.5-3.2 mm.

Note: The Macrosiphum species above that we compare with Macrosiphum lilii all feed on lilies, but except for Macrosiphum euphorbiae they usually occur on lily genera other than Lilium.

Images above by permission, copyright Hadel Go, all rights reserved.

Alate viviparae of Macrosiphum lilii (second image above) have the abdomen similarly coloured to the aptera, but the head and thorax are orange. The antennae are entirely dark, and tibiae are dusky.

Image above copyright Quaa under a Creative Commons License.

Macrosiphum lilii is monoecious holocyclic on lilies (mainly Lilium spp.). Monell (1880), who first described the species, reports that, if disturbed, all aphids in the colony unite in a swaying motion, presumably in an attempt to dissuade any potential predator. The aphids were described from bulbs imported to USA from Japan, and the species is now found widely in eastern USA. Interestingly though, Blackman in Aphids on Worlds Plants notes that the species has not subsequently been recorded in Japan.


Other aphids on the same host

Macrosiphum lilii has been recorded on 5 lily species (Lilium canadense, Lilium henryi, Lilium lancifolium, Lilium speciosum, Lilium superbum).


Damage and control

Monell (1880) reported that even when Macrosiphum lilii were present in great numbers "they did not injure or disfigure the plant to the same degree as other Aphides". This may be because they tend to spread out in a regular pattern over the stem and older leaves, rather than develop dense populations on the growing shoot. Advice on control methods if required can be obtained NCSE (North Carolina State Extension).


We are grateful to Hadel Go for allowing us to reproduce her excellent images of the apterous and alate Macrosiphum lilii, and to Quaa for making his image of Macrosiphum lilii available for use under a creative commons licence.

We have used the species accounts and keys given by Monell (1880) (as Siphonophora lilii) and Jensen (2000), 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


  • Jensen, A.S. (2000). Eight new species of Macrosiphum from Western North America, with notes on four other poorly known species. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 102(2), 427-472. Full text

  • Monell, J. (1880). The Japan lily Aphis. The Valley Naturalist 2(1), 49.