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Genus Sipha

Sipha aphids

On this page: Genus Sipha Sipha maydis

Sipha [Siphini]

Sipha are medium-sized oval aphids that have conspicuous spiny hairs. They have 5-segmented antennae and a sclerotic upper surface. The short siphunculi are stump-shaped. The four species of the nominate subgenus Sipha have a knobbed cauda, and the eight species of subgenus Rungsia have a broadly rounded cauda.

Sipha feed on grasses. Some Sipha species are largely restricted to particular genera or even species of grass, whilst others are polyphagous. Several species are restricted to wetland or coastal habitats.


Sipha maydis ( Bristly black grass aphid)

The dorsum of the adult Sipha maydis aptera (see shiny black aphid nearest the ant in picture) is shining dark brown to blackish over the sclerotized areas. The antennal terminal process is less than 1.5 times as long as base of antennal segment 5. The apical rostral segment is 0.10-0.11 mm long, with 2- 3 subsidiary hairs. The adult body length is l.0-2.l mm.

Image copyright Adam Polednicek, all rights reserved.

The alate Sipha maydis (see picture above) has a solid sclerotic carapace extending over abdominal tergites 4-7, and including the siphuncular bases and the marginal sclerites of tergites 6-7. Abdominal tergites l-3 have separate dark bands, becoming narrower towards the front. Developing alatae (see the three larger wingless individuals in the picture above) are greenish on the thoracic area with a dull black abdomen and a characteristic orange-pinkish spinal stripe.

The bristly black grass aphid feeds on numerous species of grasses (Poaceae). It is mostly found on the upper sides of leaf blades, near the base, but also occurs on the stems or flowers. It is usually attended by ants as in the picture. It probably overwinters parthenogenetically in most areas, but apterous males have been reported in some countries. Sipha maydis is found in Europe and much of Asia, and more recently in North and South America. It can reach pest numbers on some cereal crops like barley.



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).

Useful weblinks


  • Blackman, R.L. & Eastop, V.F. (2006). Aphids on the world's herbaceous plants and shrubs. Vols 1 and 2. John Wiley & Sons.