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Taiwanaphidinae : Sensoriaphis nothofagi


Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Sensoriaphis nothofagi are yellowish with brown markings and narrowly oval in shape. The antennae are 4-6 segmented and are 0.33-0.41 times as long as the body. The terminal process is 0.25-0.33 times the length of the base of antennal segment VI. There are more or less interrupted transverse sclerotic bands on all abdominal tergites. Marginal tubercles are present on abdominal tergites VI & VII, but not on tergites I-IV. The tubercles are small but well developed and fingerlike. There is a pair of finger-like spinal processes on tergite VIII. Tergites I-V each have 6 spinopleural hairs. The siphunculi are quite prominent, and the cauda is globular. The body length of adult Sensoriaphis nothofagi apterae is 1.1-1.5 mm.

Both images above by permission, copyright Nicholas A. Martin, Plant & Food Research.

Sensoriaphis nothofagi alatae are yellowish with a variable degree of brown marking. The antennae bear 9-12 secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III. There are more or less interrupted brown sclerotic dorsal bars on tergites II-VI and dark marginal sclerites. The cauda is strongly constricted near the middle, forming a broadly conical knob.

Both images above by permission, copyright Nicholas A. Martin, Plant & Food Research.

Sensoriaphis nothofagi is one of only three species of indigenous aphids in New Zealand to be widespread and sometimes common; the other two are Neophyllaphis totarae and Aphis healyi (Teulon et al., 2003). They are well camouflaged, feeding on young stems and leaves of Nothofagus species, generally on trees close to forest edges. Winged and wingless parthenogenetic adults have been collected from September to May. Oviparae and winged males occur from September to February. Note the life cycles of both Sensoriaphis and Neophyllaphis species appear to be structured to allow the egg stage to survive adverse summer conditions (December-February) when there is no young growth available on the host trees (Carver & Hales, 1974).


Biology & Ecology

Ant attendance

Sensoriaphis nothofagi is sometimes attended by ants (see picture below).

Image above by permission, copyright Nicholas A. Martin, Plant & Food Research.

There appears to be no mention in the literature of ant attendance with this species. The image above indicates that the ants are antennating the aphids to encourage honeydew product. Hence the ants are probably providing a degree of protection for the aphids against predators and/or parasitoids.

Natural enemies

Two species of parakeet, the the red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) and the yellow-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps), have been recorded predating Sensoriaphis nothofagi. Terry (1998) reported the aphid as a major food item (defined as >5% of the diet in any one month) of red-crowned parakeets and yellow-crowned parakeets on Little Barrier Island. A dramatic increase in the number of red-crowned parakeets (see first picture below) in Kauri/Beech/Rata forest occurred from July to August. This coincided with the period when flowering hard of beech (Nothofagus truncata) reached a peak, as did the numbers of Sensoriaphis nothofagi occurring on the new leaves.

First image above copyright Pseudopanax (public domain).
Second image copyright Grapeman4 under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Yellow-crowned parakeet numbers (see second picture above) within this forest type followed similar trends, utilising the abundance of beech flowers, seeds and aphids. For most of the year yellow-crowned parakeets consumed significantly more invertebrates relative to flowers, fruits and seeds than did red-crowned parakeets.

In addition ladybirds (Coccinellidae) have been recorded as predators of Sensoriaphis nothofagi as have syrphid (Syrphidae) larvae.


Other aphids on the same host

Sensoriaphis nothofagi has been recorded from 2 Nothofagus species (Nothofagus fusca var colensoi = Fuscospora truncata, Nothofagus solandri var cliffortioides).

Blackman & Eastop list 2 species of aphid as feeding on hard beech (Nothofagus fusca var colensoi = Fuscospora truncata) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list). Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists none as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


We are especially grateful to Manaaki Menua (Land Care Research) and Darren Ward, Head Curator New Zealand Arthropod Collection, for giving us permission to reproduce some of their images and for sending us the originals. We have used the species accounts of Cottier (1953), Sunde (1997), Teulon et al (2003) and Landcare Research, 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 and ecological 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


  • Carver, M. & Hales, D. (1974). A new species of Sensoriaphis Cottier, 1953 (Homoptera: Aphididae) from New South Wales. Journal of Entomology (B) 42, 113125. Abstract

  • Cottier, W. (1953). Aphids of New Zealand. N.Z. Bulletin 106. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. 382 pp.

  • Greene, T. (1998). Foraging ecology of the red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae novaezelandiae) and yellow-crowned parakeet (C. auriceps auriceps) on Little Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 22 (2), 161-171. Full text

  • Sunde, R.G. (1997). New descriptions of Sensoriaphis nothofagi (Homoptera: Aphididae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 6 (1), 57-69. Full text

  • Teulon, D.A.J. et al. (2003). Status of New Zealand indigenous aphids, 2002. Doc Science Internal Series 106. New Zealand Department of Conservation.Full text