Biology, images, analysis, design...
|"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important" |
Trama (Neotrama) maritima
Coastal root aphidOn this page: Identification & Distribution Biology & Ecology Other aphids on the same host Damage & Control
Identification & Distribution
Adult apterae of Trama maritima (see first picture below) are whitish, pale yellow or brownish with no sclerotic bands. The species is differentiated from the closely related Trama caudata by having a relatively longer antennal segment III relative to the lengths of antennal segments IV and V. So for Trama maritima antennal segment III is 2.1-2.8 times (usually 2.4-2.7 times) the length of antennal segment IV, and 1.35-1.80 times the length of antennal segment V (cf. Trama caudata for which antennal segment III is 1.80-2.35 × (usually 2.0-2.2 times) the length of antennal segment IV, and 0.90-1.35 times the length of antennal segment V. Siphuncular pores are present on very low, light brown cones. The body length of the adult Trama maritima aptera is 2.6-3.9 mm.
The alate viviparous female (not pictured) has dark dorsal and marginal sclerites on the abdomen. Immature Trama maritima (see second picture above) are usually straw-coloured, sometimes with a green tinge.
Trama maritima live in colonies on the roots of bristly oxtongue (Picris echioides) and spiny sowthistle (Sonchus asper, mainly in coastal regions. They are attended by ants, especially Lasius flavus. Sexual forms have not been found, so it is assumed that they reproduce parthenogenetically through the year.
Biology & Ecology
We first found Trama maritima in 2016 on the root of an apparently dead (the above ground part of the plant had rotted away) composite on Winchelsea Beach in East Sussex. On the assumption that the root we had was burdock (Arctium), we wrongly identified the aphid as Protrama radicis, until Dr Roger Blackman pointed out that it lacks the sclerotized dorsal abdominal bands of that species. Re-examination of the specimens, coupled with use of the identification key for Picris, confirmed its identity as Trama maritima.
In 2017 we revisited Winchelsea Beach in August. One of the bristly oxtongues (see first picture below) growing at the top of the beach had been tented around the base by ants with sand and various detritus (see second picture below).
Further examination revealed a small colony of Trama maritima on the roots - one of the colony is shown below.
Blackman et al. (2001) collected mixed colonies of Trama troglodytes and Trama maritima from Church Ope Cove, Portland, Dorset. In one visit four of the six colonies collected were mixed troglodytes and maritima, the other two being pure maritima. Of the two colonies we have found on Winchelsea Beach, both were pure Trama maritima.
Other species on the same host