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Genus Melanaphis

On this page: Melanaphis pyraria

Genus Melanaphis [Apidini]

Melanaphis are small to medium-sized to elongate oval or pear-shaped aphids closely related to Rhopalosiphum aphids. Their siphunculi are shorter than the cauda. The abdomen has dark dorsal markings. The winged forms have dark forewing veins with the media vein twice-branched.

There are about 25 species of Melanaphis aphids. The three European species are associated with Pyrus (Rosaceae) and Poaceae, whilst the remaining East Asian species are associated with silvergrass (Miscanthus) or bamboo (Arundinaria).

 

Melanaphis pyraria (Pear-grass aphid)

In spring Melanaphis pyraria roll the leaves of pear, the primary host, transversely or diagonal to the mid-rib (see first picture below). The pseudogall may become yellowed or reddened. The dorsal abdomen of the adult aptera is dark reddish brown and has a solid dark sclerotic shield (see second picture below). The hairs on the antenna and dorsal body are minute, less than half the diameter of the third antennal segment. The siphunculi are dark, about twice their basal width and shorter than the cauda. The body length of Melanaphis pyraria is 1.3-2.1 mm.

Melanaphis pyraria host alternates from its primary host pear (Pyrus) to its secondary hosts grasses (including Arrhenatherum, Poa, Holcus and Triticum). On the primary host they may be attended by ants. On the secondary host the appearance of Melanaphis pyraria differs according to the particular genus of grass colonized - reddish purple on Arrhenatherum, and yellowish on Poa and Triticum. The pear-grass aphid is widely distributed in Europe, as well as the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and the Caucasus.

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Acknowledgements

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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