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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Macrosiphum rosae


Macrosiphum rosae

Rose aphid

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

Identification & Distribution:

Adult Macrosiphum rosae apterae are green or deep pink to red-brown. The antennae and sometimes the head are dark, as are the ends of the tibiae and femora. The abdomen may or may not have small marginal sclerites and antesiphuncular sclerites. The siphunculi are black and bent outwards and are reticulated on the apical 10-17%. They are about 0.27-0.41 times the body length and 1.9-2.4 times the length of the cauda. The cauda is pale yellow. The adult aptera of Macrosiphum rosae is 1.7-3.6 mm long.

Macrosiphum rosae alatae have conspicuous black sclerites along the sides of the abdomen (see third picture above). They also have green and red colour forms. Immatures are similar in appearance to the adult apterae, but the cauda is not developed and the siphunculi are dusky, not black.

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

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

The rose aphid usually overwinters in the egg stage on rose bushes (its primary host), although in mild winters some adults may continue to reproduce parthenogenetically. In spring they colonise the young growth of rose, and produce large numbers of alates. These mostly migrate to their secondary hosts, teasels (Dipsaceae) and valerians (Valerianaceae). However, colonies can be found all summer on rose and the species is an important horticultural pest. Macrosiphum rosae has a worldwide distribution.


Other aphids on same host:

Primary host

Blackman & Eastop list 61 species of aphid as feeding on Rosa spp. (both cultivated and wild) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 24 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

Blackman & Eastop (1984) list 32 species of aphid as feeding on cultivated 'roses' worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 12 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

Secondary hosts

Blackman & Eastop list 8 aphid species of aphid as feeding on teasels (Dipsacus) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 7 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


Our particular thanks to Roger Blackman for images of his clarified slide mounts.

We also thank Plumpton College at Stanmer Park for their kind assistance, and permission to sample.

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


Identification requests

Nigel Gilligan, 17 March 2014, Macrosiphum rosae maybe

I think this could be Macrosiphum rosae. It was the one I was referring to as magenta coloured. It does seem to fit, colour-wise, and the proportions of siphunculi to body (0.4), and siphunculi to cauda (2.3) are within parameters. However, the siphunculi appear to be bent a bit outwards maybe, but not backwards.

So might this be a related species, or one that is bending the rules. Or more likely, cannot be identified with certainty.

Seen 1/7/2013.

Images copyright Nigel Gilligan, all rights reserved.


Bob, Influentialpoints:

  • You are correct, it is Macrosiphum rosae.



Alan Watson Featherstone 27/8/2014

While I was out at Dundreggan on Monday, I found some nice aphids on devilsbit scabious (Succisa pratensis) - a plant I haven't seen aphids on before. I'm attaching some photos of them. As you'll see from the images, some of them appeared to have been parasitised - the darker, brown coloured ones.

I don't think we've had aphids recorded on scabious on Dundreggan before, and I can't find any information on the Web about aphids specific to scabious, but I hope that you might be able to identify these for me?

Images copyright Alan Watson Featherstone/Trees for Life all rights reserved.


Bob, Influentialpoints:

  • Nice piccies!

    The aphid is Macrosiphum rosae (rose aphid) on its secondary host (various Valerianaceae and Dipsacaceae including Succisa).

    Don't think those aphids have been parasitized - they show all the signs of having been eaten by midge larvae Aphidoletes - much like the ones we found eating Cavariella on the young Salix saplings in the nursery at Dundreggan (See fig. 79 in our report).

    You appear to have a photo of one of the Aphidoletes larvae in the third picture you sent us (IMG_1728.jpeg).

    There is another quite rare aphid found on Succisa which you should watch out for called Macrosiphum weberi. Aphids are dark red or violet with black siphunculiu. It lives in small ant attended colonies on stems of Succisa pratensis. (Beware - Macrosiphum rosae also has a red form).

    POSTSCRIPT Alan sent some of the green Macrosiphum shown in these pictures to Ed Baker in Cardiff to be checked under the microscope. They turned out to be not Macrosiphum rosae but a green form of Macrosiphum weberi!

    Moral of the story? Whilst one can identify many aphid species from photos, unusual colour forms can easily mislead. Checking under the microscope is always a good idea.

Many thanks for your message, and for providing the ID for those aphids.

I was out at Dundreggan again yesterday and spent some more time with the same patch of devlisbit scabious. I didn't see any aphids that looked like they might have been Macrosiphum weberi, but there were lots and lots of the Macrosiphum rosae aphids [now thought to be Macrosiphum weberi] on them. There were also quite a few of the orange midge larvae, so I took more photos of those, and am attaching some for your interest. Do you have any idea what species they might be?

Images copyright Alan Watson Featherstone/Trees for Life all rights reserved.


I'm curious about how they prey on the aphids - do they suck the juice out of the aphids? I've seen some desiccated shrivelled aphid corpses near these larvae, so i'm wondering if that's how they attack the aphids. If so, why do the aphids get caught like that? Surely they can move faster than such a midge larva, which I'm guessing can't move very fast, as it doesn't appear to have any legs?

I'd be grateful for any information you can provide about this predation of aphids and/or point me to relevant details on the web or your own site. Thanks!

Bob, Influentialpoints:

  • Thanks for your emails re midge (cecidomyiid) larvae, once again the photos are superb. Pardon me if I answer your questions more or less in reverse order.

    Re cecidomyiid larvae, yes they suck the juice out of the aphids. They can move surprisingly fast, wriggling along in humping, or vaguely snake-like fashion.

    I've done a bit of a search for info on them. There is some info on available on the web but the most useful reference is not available (unless you want to pay for it).

    It is :

    Harris, K.M. 1973. Aphidophagous Cecidomyiidae (Diptera): taxonomy, biology and assessments of field populations. Bulletin of Entomological Research 63: 305-325.

    This is the abstract:

    Larvae of Aphidoletes Kieffer and Monobremia Kieffer feed exclusively as predators on aphids.

    The taxonomic status of these genera and their included species is reviewed and new generic and specific synonymies are given.

    A. aphidimyza (Rondani), A. urticariae (Kieffer), A. abietis (Kieffer), A. thompsoni Möhn and M. subterranea (Kieffer) are accepted as good species and a neotype is designated for A. urticariae. Diagnostic characters of these species are indicated and characters of the male genitalia, female wings and larval skins are illustrated.

    Published information on their biology, particularly of the commonest species A. aphidimyza, is summarized and includes details of host ranges and geographical distribution. Lestodiplosis grassator (Fyles), L. pini Barnes, Trilobia aphidisuga Del Guercio, Uncinulella eriosomiperda Del Guercio, Trilobiella siphae Del Guercio and Adelgimyza strobilobii Del Guercio probably prey on aphids but have not been recognized since they were originally described. Comparative assessments of field populations of Aphidoletes by examination of aphid colonies in the field, by incubation of samples in polythene bags and by laboratory examination of samples fixed in 70% ethyl alcohol showed that only the last gives accurate counts of eggs and larvae.

    Counts of aphids, Aphidoletes, Syrphids, Coccinellids and Anthocorids in 35 samples taken from aphid colonies occurring at Wisley in 1970-72 are tabulated, together with seven samples from other localities. Aphidoletes (mainly A. aphidimyza) was numerically the dominant predator in all three years at Wisley and was about ten times more numerous on wild plants than on cultivated plants.

    That said, the most up to date taxonomic account is available to download free of charge - namely:


    Species of Aphidoletes & Monobremia

    To summarize:

    • Aphidoletes abietis UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia (Europe), Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland), USA (Maine, Virginia, North Carolina). Feeds on Adelges abietis;A.piceae,A.nusslini(Hemiptera: Adelgidae).

    • Aphidoletes aphidimyza Widespread Europe, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Russia (Far East), Japan (Hokkaido to Kyushu), Hawaiian Is, widespread Nearctic, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand. Feeds on Aphis sp.and many genera of aphids

    • Aphidoletes thompsoni . UK, Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia; introduced into Canada & USA, established?. Adelges piceae(Hemiptera: Adelgidae). This species was reportedly introduced into Canada in the 1950s and from there into the USA (Dowden 1962), but could have been confused in Europe and in North America with the widespread A. abietis, a species perhaps native to North America. Aphidoletes thompsoni and A. abietis are similar, possibly identical, species presently being evaluated by K.M. Harris (in litt.). Feeds on Adelges

    • Aphidoletes urticaria. Widespread Europe, USA (Washington, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia). Feeds on Aphis urticata and many genera of aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae),

    • Monobremia lobata. India (Uttar Pradesh).

    • Monobremia longicornis. Russia (Far East).

    • Monobremia rishikeshensis. India (Uttar Pradesh).

    • Monobremia subterranea. UK, Netherlands, France, Latvia, Romania, Russia (Europe). Feeds on Metanipponaphis vandergrooti; Aphis spp., Dysaphis plantaginea, Nerudea roseus, Symydobius oblongus (Hemiptera: Aphididae).

    I don't know of any way of identifying the larvae in your photos but they are probably Aphidoletes aphidimyza (since they are much the most common). Other possibilities are Aphidoletes urticaria and Monobremia subterranea.

    If you can rear some through to adult, it would probably be easy enough to get a definite ID.

Many thanks for your message below and all that information - that's very helpful.

From looking at the details and doing some web searching, I suspect that the midge larvae may be Aphidoletes aphidimyza - images of that species at look very similar to those in my photos.

I've also now heard back from Ed Baker about this, and he's got the paper by Keith Harris that you mention - apparently it has a key to the larvae in it. I'm going to send some larvae to Ed, in the hope that he can identify them!



V. Wagner 2/10/2014

Yesterday I found some aphids on one of our roses. Using a key for rose-aphids, linked on Your website, I tried to identify them on my own.

Is it Wahlgreniella ossiannilssoni?

Image copyright V. Wagner, all rights reserved.

Bob, Influentialpoints:

  • Nice picture - but that aphid is not alive. It is a parasitized mummy.

    It is often impossible to identify the aphid species from the mummy, but the long slightly curving siphunculi strongly suggest it was Macrosiphum rosae.