Biology, images, analysis, design...
Aphids Find them How to ID AphidBlog
"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important" (Sherlock Holmes)

Search this site

Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Uroleucon compositae


Uroleucon compositae

Safflower aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Uroleucon compositae (see larger individuals in first picture below) are shining very dark red to almost black, with long black siphunculi and cauda. The antennae are black, and longer than the body. Antennal segment III bears 42-86 secondary rhinaria scattered over its whole length, with antennal segment III 1.8-2.5 times segment V. The terminal process is 5.4-7.1 times the base of antennal segment VI. The eyes are large and black. The apical rostral segment is 1.1-1.4 times the second hind tarsal segment. The femora are black, except at the base. The middle part of the hind tibia is pale (cf. Uroleucon aeneum & Uroleucon jaceae, which both have the middle part of the hind tibiae dusky or dark). The abdomen has slightly capitate hairs. The siphunculi are black, very long, 1.8-2.3 times the caudal length, slightly expanding basally and with the apical area reticulate; in some specimens they are straight, in others they are curved outwards. The cauda is black, bluntly pointed, with six pairs of lateral hairs and three median dorsal ones. The body length of adult Uroleucon compositae apterae is 1.9-4.1 mm. Immatures (see second picture below) are reddish brown, and by the fourth instar have a short triangular black cauda.

Note: Uroleucon compositae may well be an anholocyclic form of Uroleucon gobonis, a mainly east Asian species which is holocyclic in Japan. The two 'species' cannot be distinguished on morphological grounds.

Both images above by permission, copyright Sunil Joshi & Poorani, J. Aphids of Karnataka (accessed 12/2/20).

The alate Uroleucon compositae is similarly coloured to the aptera. Antennal segment III bears 90-100 secondary rhinaria scattered over its whole length, some much smaller than others, the smaller ones to some extent being in groups. The siphunculi are thicker than in the apterous female, black and similarly ornamented.

Both images copyright Aphidnet under a Creative Commons License.

Uroleucon compositae feed on flower-stems, and in low numbers along the mid-ribs of leaves, of a wide range of Asteraceae. They favour plants growing in moist or shady situations at the end of the dry season. The safflower aphid is a pest of safflower (Carthamus tinctoria) in India, making dense colonies on the flower stalks and causing serious damage to the plants. In Africa it is common on herbaceous ironweed (Vernonia) after the rains. It also occurs on plants in the mallow (Malvaceae), mulberry (Moraceae) and passionfruit (Passifloraceae) families. It may transmit at least two plant viruses. It is apparently anholocyclic everywhere, with no sexuales known. Uroleucon compositae is found in tropical and subtropical climates, especially in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, and also in West Asia, Réunion, Mauritius, Taiwan, Brazil & Surinam. It does not occur in south-east Asia.


Other aphids on the same host

Uroleucon compositae are recorded on two Carthamus species (Carthamus lanatus, Carthamus tinctoria).

Uroleucon compositae are recorded on 14 Vernonia species (Vernonia adoensis, Vernonia amygdalina, Vernonia arborea, Vernonia aspera, Vernonia brazzavillensis, Vernonia calvoana ssp. leucocalyx, Vernonia cinerea, Vernonia glabra, Vernonia lasiopus, Vernonia leopoldi, Vernonia patula, Vernonia pauciflora, Vernonia scorpiodes, Vernonia sutherlandii).


Damage and control

Safflower is one of the most important oilseed crops in the world with India one of the leading producers. Jemimah (2013) review various aspects of the biology and control of Uroleucon compositae. Numerous pests attack safflower, of which Uroleucon compositae is among the most serious. It is known to badly affect crop growth and yield. Seed and oil losses of 20-80% have been reported from different parts of the country. D.N. Kambrekar describes an integrated control programme for safflower aphid including early sowing, intercropping with sorghum, coriander and wheat, and judicious use of insecticides including thiamethoxam, acetamipirid and imidacloprid.


We are grateful to Sunil Joshi & Poorani, J. (Aphids of Karnataka) and AphidNet for permitting us to use their images of Uroleucon compositae.

We have used the species account and keys given by Theobald (1915) (as Macrosiphum compositae), and Eastop (1958) (as Dactynotus (Uromelan) compositae), 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 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


  • Eastop, V. (1958). A study of the Aphididae (Homoptera) of East Africa. Colonial Research Publications, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London (p. 38)

  • Jemimah, N. et al. (2013). A brief review on safflower aphid, Uroleucon compositae Theobald and its management. International Journal of Applied Biology and Pharmaceutical Technology 4(4), 194-199. Full text

  • Theobald, F.V. (1915). African Aphididae. Part II. Bulletin of Entomological Research 6: (p. 106) Full text