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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Macrosiphum ptericolens


Macrosiphum ptericolens

Bracken aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Macrosiphum ptericolens (see first picture below) are pale yellowish green to a darker shiny green. Their antennae are longer than the body, with the terminal process 5.1-6.5 times as long as the base of antennal segment VI, and 1-15 secondary rhinaria in an irregular row on the basal two fifths of antennal segment III. The abdominal dorsum is pale and smooth, being entirely but lightly sclerotized. The siphunculi are strongly tapering, and have 5-10 rows of distinct reticulations, with the reticulated area sometimes distinctly constricted. The siphunculi are pale with dark tips (cf. Macrosiphum funestum, which has dusky to dark siphunculi with pale bases) and are 2.7-3.5 times the length of the rather short, tapering cauda (cf. Macrosiphum euphorbiae, which has siphunculi 1.7-2.2 times the length of the cauda). The body length of Macrosiphum ptericolens apterae is 2.3-3.3 mm.

The alate Macrosiphum ptericolens (see second picture above) is similarly coloured to the apterous viviparous female, but with 38-62 secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III.

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

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

The bracken aphid does not host alternate, but spends its entire life cycle on bracken (Pteridium spp.). Macrosiphum ptericolens is indigenous to eastern North America, but has been introduced into England, central Europe and South America.


Other aphids on same host:

Macrosiphum ptericolens has been recorded from 2 Pteridium species (Pteridium aquilinum, Pteridium caudatum).

Blackman & Eastop list 14 species of aphid as feeding on bracken (common bracken, eagle fern, eastern brakenfern, Pteridium aquilinum) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 5 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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