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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Nasonovia houghtonensis


Nasonovia houghtonensis

Gooseberry witch-broom aphid

On this page: Life cycle Other aphids on the same host

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Nasonovia houghtonensis (see first picture below of a fundatrix) are green to yellow-green to straw-yellow with no dark dorsal markings (cf. Nasonovia grossa in Rocky Mountain region, which has an extensive dark dorsal patch). It has pale siphunculi (sometimes dark tipped) and a pale cauda. The antennae are mainly pale, but the tips of antennal segment IV-V and most of segment VI are dark. The antennae are 0.7-0.8 times the body length (cf. Nasonovia cynosbati in USA, which has antennae 0.8-1.4 times its body length). The terminal process is 3.8-5.9 times as long as the base of segment VI. Secondary rhinaria on segment III are few and rather small, with 2-10 of various sizes irregularly scattered along the segment, and none on segments IV and V. The longest hair on antennal segment III is 1.2-2.0 times the basal diameter of that segment (cf. Nasonovia ribisnigri in USA & Europe, which has the longest hair on that segment 0.7-1.1 times the basal diameter). The apical rostral segment (RIV+V) is 1.4-2.7 times the second hind tarsal segment (HTII), with 10-23 accessory hairs (both these features are dependent on subspecies). Marginal tubercles are apparently absent. Tarsal segment I has 3 or 4 hairs. The siphunculi are 0.9-2.1 times the caudal length (dependent on subspecies), and have spinulose imbrication over the entire length (cf. Nasonovia cynosbati, which has spinulose imbrication only on the distal part). The cauda is tongue-shaped, slightly constricted near the middle, with about 5 hairs. The body length of adult Nasonovia houghtonensis apterae is 1.5-2.0 mm.

First image above copyright Andrew Jensen, second image copyright CBG Photography Group;
both under a creative common licence.

The alate Nasonovia houghtonensis (see picture below) has the head and thorax brown, and the abdomen pale green. Sometimes there are pigmented spinal, marginal, postsiphuncular and antesiphuncular sclerites. The antennae are dusky throughout, and the tibiae, siphunculi and cauda are pale.

Image above copyright Andrew Jensen, under a creative common licence.

Nasonovia houghtonensis is monoecious on various currant species (Ribes), with different subspecies often being separated by their host. The species has gained it's common name of gooseberry witch-broom aphid from the tightly rolled terminal leaves Nasonovia houghtonensis houghtonensis produces on gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa). All subspecies are thought to be holocyclic, with sexuales occurring in autumn. The species is found over much of North America.


Nasonovia houghtonensis seems to be a complex of races or subspecies monoecious holocyclic on Ribes spp. in North America, partly separated by geographical and/or host plant differences. Jensen in Aphidtrek suggests that adequate characterization of these subspecies would reveal full, reproductively isolated species.

  • Nasonovia houghtonensis ssp. houghtonensis attacks the Houghton variety of gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa), is widely distributed in North America and has apterous males, producing its sexual morphs in September-October. RIV+V is 1.4-1.7 times HTII. Siphunculi are 1.2-1.7 times cauda.
  • Nasonovia houghtonensis ssp. cerei is the most hairy and has the longest siphunculi, and may be the ancestral form for the group. It is found on Ribes cereum and Ribes viscossimum in the Rocky Mountain region and produces alate males and oviparae in July-September. RIV+V is 1.8-2.7 times HTII. Siphunculi are 1.6-2.1 times cauda.
  • Nasonovia houghtonensis ssp. occidentalis is found on Ribes inerme in north-western USA (life cycle is unknown), RIV+V is 1.7-2.1 times HTII. Siphunculi are 0.9-1.3 times cauda.
  • Nasonovia houghtonensis ssp. russellae is also in the Rocky Mountain region, feeding on Ribes aureum & Ribes inerme, with oviparae and alate males in July-August. RIV+V is 1.6-1.8 x times HTII. Siphunculi are 1.1-1.4 times cauda.
  • Nasonovia houghtonensis ssp. similis occurs widely in Canada feeding on several different Ribes spp. (Ribes aureum, Ribes cynosbati, Ribes heterotrichum, Ribes oxyacanthoides, Ribes nigrum), producing oviparae and apterous males in August-October. RIV+V is 1.7-2.1 times HTII. Siphunculi are 1.2-1.74 times cauda.


Other aphids on the same host

Nasonovia houghtonensis and its various subspecies has been recorded from 10 Ribes species (Ribes aureum, Ribes cereum, Ribes cynosbati, hirtellum, Ribes inerme, Ribes nigrum, Ribes oxyacanthoides, Ribes sanguineum, Ribes uva crispa, Ribes viscossimimum).


We are grateful to Andrew Jensen and CBG group for making their images of Nasonovia houghtonensis available for use under a creative commons licence.

We have used the species accounts given by Troop (1906), Palmer (1952) & 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


  • 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.

  • Palmer, M.A. (1952). Aphids of the Rocky Mountain Region: including primarily Colorado and Utah, but also bordering area composed of southern Wyoming, southeastern Idaho and northern New Mexico. Full text

  • Troop, J. (1906). A new aphid. Entomological News 17(2), 59-60.