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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Nasonovia aquilegiae


Nasonovia aquilegiae

Dark-spot columbine aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Nasonovia aquilegiae (see three pictures below) are pale greenish yellow, sometimes with internal reddish markings, and usually with some black dorsal markings. These markings usually include a large shining black dorsal spot which covers abdominal tergites II-V and marginal areas. There also be sclerites on the thorax and tergites VI and VII which are more or less fused into cross bars (cf. Nasonovia heie in Switzerland, which has a dorsal sclerotic pattern consisting of pairs of pale brown spinal, pleural and marginal spots on each segment). Antennae are pale, but with dark tips on segments III-V and the base and tip of VI. Antenna are about 0.8-1.0 times body length, with the terminal process 3.5-6.5 times the base of segment VI (cf. Longicaudus trirhodus, whose terminal process is 1.0-2.3 times the base). The longest hair on antennal segment III is 0.9-1.6 times the basal diameter. There are 6-33 secondary rhinaria on segment III, irregularly placed along one side of the basal 0.5 or more, and 0-3 on segment IV. The apical rostral segment is slender with almost parallel margins, 1.2-2.2 times the second hind tarsal segment. There are well developed, semiglobular marginal tubercles sometimes present on the prothorax and abdominal segments II-V. The siphunculi are 1.1-2.1 times the cauda, thick at base, and gradually attenuating towards their apices. The cauda is tongue-shaped or oblong triangular, blunt and usually with 5 hairs. The body length of adult Nasonovia aquilegiae apterae is 1.6-3.0 mm.

First image above copyright Andrew Jensen, second and third images copyright Sequoia Janirella Wrens;
all under a creative common licence.

The alate vivipara of Nasonovia aquilegiae (see first picture below) has an irregular, dark, central spot on tergites III-V. It has more or less perforated, or alternatively separate sclerites, together with spinal spots or cross bars on tergites VI and VII and marginal and postsiphuncular sclerites. Antennae are mainly dark, with 28-44 secondary rhinaria on segment III, 10-24 on IV, and 0-8 on V. The siphunculi are dark or dusky, but with a paler distal part, and the cauda is pale. The second picture below shows a colony of mainly immature Nasonovia aquilegiae on their host, columbine (Aquilegia).

First image above copyright Andrew Jensen, second image copyright James Bailey;
both under a creative common licence.

Nasonovia aquilegiae is monoecious on columbine (Aquilegia spp.). Essig (1917), who first described the species, found that crimson columbine (Aquilegia formosa ssp. truncata) was the preferred food plant on the California University campus, though a few specimens were found throughout the season on a nearby species, golden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha). The small tender shoots and buds were invariably infested and often the plants were considerably injured by the attacks. In California it passed the entire year on the columbine, going as far down around the crown as possible during the winter. In colder climates further north the species is holocyclic with oviparae and alate males in October-November. Nasonovia aquilegiae is widely distributed in North America being found in the USA and Canada.


Other aphids on the same host

Nasonovia aquilegiae has been recorded on 6 columbine species (Aquilegia alpina, Aquilegia caerulea, Aquilegia canadensis, Aquilegia chrysantha, Aquilegia flavescens var rubicunda, Aquilegia formosa).


We are grateful to Andrew Jensen, Sequoia Janirella Wrens and James Bailey for making their images of Nasonovia aquilegiae available for use under a creative commons licence.

We have used the species accounts given by Essig (1917) & Heie (1979), 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


  • Essig, E.O. (1917). Aphididae of California: New species of Aphididae and notes from various parts of the state, but chiefly from the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, California. University of California Publications Technical Bulletins College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station, Entomology 1(7), 302-346. (p. 314)

  • Heie, E.O. (1979). Revision of the aphid genus Nasonovia Mordvilko, including Kakimia Hottes & Frison, with keys and descriptions of the species of the world (Homoptera: Aphididae). Entomologica Scandinavica Supplement 9, 105 pp.