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Chaitophorinae : Siphini : Sipha maydis


Sipha maydis (=Sipha maidis)

Bristly black grass aphid, Barley aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

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.

The alate Sipha maydis (see picture below) 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 Sipha maydis alatae (see the three larger wingless individuals in the picture below) are greenish on the thoracic area with a dull black abdomen and a characteristic orange-pinkish spinal stripe.

Note: Sipha maydis is sometimes misnamed Sipha maidis.

Image copyright Adam Polednicek, all rights reserved.

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 cereal crops such as barley.


Other aphids on same host:

Sipha maydis has been recorded from numerous other Poaceae, including almost every cultivated cereal crop species. We give those on Hordeum and Poa as examples.

  • Sipha maydis has been recorded on 4 species of Hordeum (Hordeum bulbosum, Hordeum distichon, Hordeum murinum and Hordeum vulgare).

    Blackman & Eastop list 47 species of aphid as feeding on barley (Hordeum vulgare) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list).

    Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 26 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).

  • Sipha maydis has been recorded from 5 Poa species (Poa alpina, Poa angustifolia, Poa annua, Poa pratensis & Poa trivialis).

    Blackman & Eastop list 43 species of aphid as feeding on annual meadow grass (Poa annua) worldwide, and provide formal identification keys (Show World list).

    Of those aphid species, Baker (2015) lists 31 as occurring in Britain (Show British list).


Special thanks to Adam Polednicek who contributed the excellent picture shown here.

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).

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