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Neophyllaphidinae : Neophyllaphis varicolor


Neophyllaphis varicolor

Varicolored podocarp aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Neophyllaphis varicolor are dorso-ventrally flattened, and coloured purple to dark wine-red. The colour is partially obscured by heavy wax-dusting. The head is weakly sclerotized, smooth with only faint reticulation. The antennal tubercles are undeveloped, and the eyes are only triommatidia. The antennae are 6-segmented, shorter than the body, with no secondary rhinaria and dusky, with the base of segment III paler. Antennal segment III is at least 2.6 times as long as segment IV (cf. Neophyllaphis podocarpi, which has antennal segment III less than 2.6 times segment IV). The hairs on antennal segment III are short, usually less than half the width of the segment. The rostrum is long, extending past the metacoxae to the abdominal region (cf. Neophyllaphis fransseni, where the rostrum does not reach the metacoxae). The apical rostral segment is long, with 6 hairs. The abdomen is without pigment, except segment VIII which has a transverse sclerite. Siphunculi are short, dusky, and with no apical flange. The cauda is long, elongate, with a basal constriction, and has 4 pairs of lateral hairs plus a dorsal subapical hair. The body length of adult Neophyllaphis varicolor apterae is 1.2-1.6 mm. Immatures may be yellow, orange, red or purple.

Note: The genus is divided into two subgenera, the nominate subgenus Neophyllaphis, and the subgenus Chileaphis. Species of subgenus Chileaphis have a very restricted distribution in South America. Neophyllaphis varicolor belongs to subgenus Neophyllaphis which is distributed in temperate and tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Some species of this latter subgenus, including presumably Neophyllaphis varicolor, have been introduced to North America.

Images above copyright James Bailey under a creative common licence.

The alate Neophyllaphis varicolor (see second picture above and below) has the head sclerotized with a pair of compound eyes, distinct triommatidia, plus frontal and lateral ocelli. The antennae have numerous annular secondary rhinaria on segment III. The thoracic region has a well developed sclerite. The forewing has a distinct pterostigma, and its media vein has 3 branches.

Note: There is a little doubt about the identity of the two aphids pictured above since they come from California and Bermuda respectively, from neither of which has Neophyllaphis varicolor previously been recorded. We can be more confident about the aptera because antennal segment III (see first picture below) is more than 2.6 times the length of segment IV (even if only slightly so).

Images above copyright Jesse Rorabaugh under a public domain licence.

Neophyllaphis varicolor gets its name from the range of colours - yellow, orange, red or purple - of the immatures (see first picture below). Unfortunately the colour of immatures of other Neophyllaphis is unknown, so this characteristic should not be treated as diagnostic. Colonies in California are sometimes attended by ants (see second picture below).

Images above copyright Jesse Rorabaugh under a public domain licence.

Neophyllaphis varicolor was first found in colonies on new growth of Podocarpus spp. and Afrocarpus falcatus in Florida, USA (Miller & Halbert, 2014), but is now apparently present in several of the southern states of the USA. The USA populations are anholocyclic, and no sexuales have been found. Neophyllaphis varicolor has also been recorded from Costa Rica. More recently it has been found on a Podocarpus sp. in Vietnam, where it is presumed indigenous (Zuniga-Centeno et al., 2019).


Other aphids on the same host

Neophyllaphis varicolor has been recorded on at least 2 Podocarpus species (Podocarpus chinensis, Podocarpus macrophyllus).

Neophyllaphis varicolor has been recorded on 1 or 2 species of Afrocarpus (Afrocarpus falcatus, Afrocarpus sp.)


We are grateful to James Bailey and Jesse Rorabaugh for making their images of Neophyllaphis varicolor available for use under creative commons licences.

We have used the species account given by Miller & Halbert (2014), together with information from Zuniga-Centeno et al. (2019) and 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


  • Miller, G.L. & Halbert, S.E. (2014). A new species of Neophyllaphis (Hemiptera: Aphididae: Neophyllaphidinae) with keys to species on Podocarpus (Pinales: Podocarpaceae). Full text

  • Zuniga-Centeno, A. et al. (2019). A molecular study of Neophyllaphis varicolor (Hemiptera, Aphididae) in Costa Rica. Full text