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Aphididae : Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Vesiculaphis


Genus Vesiculaphis

Vesiculaphis aphids

On this page: Vesiculaphis theobaldi

Vesiculaphis [Macrosiphini]

Vesiculaphis are rather small, oval or spindle shaped aphids. Their antennal tubercles are poorly developed but, in the apterous female of some species, the anterior part of the head has roundish processes between the antennal bases. The antennae are 5- or 6-segmented, and shorter than the body. Apterous females have no secondary rhinaria, but alatae have them on segments III, IV and V. The terminal process is about as long as the base of antennal segment VI, or slightly longer. Hairs on the dorsal body and appendages are mostly very short and pointed. The first tarsal segments of the fore, mid, and hind legs have 3, 3, 2 hairs respectively. The media of the forewing has one or two forks. The siphunculi are either cylindrical or with the distal half swollen, squamous and strongly constricted at the apex. Abdominal segment VIII partly covers the cauda. The cauda is tongue-shaped, with a constriction between the swollen basal part and the narrower distal part.

There are 9 species of Vesiculaphis known worldwide. They are either monoecious on Carex or, in East Asia, they host alternate between Ericaceae (Rhododendron, Lyonia) and Carex. One species from India (Vesiculaphis grandis) is only known from Rhododendron.


Vesiculaphis theobaldi (vesicular sedge aphid)

Adult apterae of Vesiculaphis theobaldi are elongate oval in body shape. They are variable in colour, yellowish green, pale to mid-green or brownish-orange green to almost black. The head is broad, with the width between (but not including) the eyes wider than its maximum length. The front of the head is produced into three large separate processes between the antennal bases, each bearing spine-like hairs (cf. Vesiculaphis caricis in the Far East, which has the front of the head produced as a ledge). The ventral side of the head has rows of spinules. Antennae are much shorter than the body, and the antennal terminal process is 1.37-1.8 times as long as the base of segment VI. The apical rostral segment (RIV+V) is 1.09-1.21 times the length of the second hind tarsal segment (HTII). Abdominal segments are clearly demarcated. The siphunculi are very scabrous ventrally, and are swollen over most of their length, narrowing sharply just before flange; they curve inwards at the base and outwards at the apex forming a shallow S-shaped curve, and are about 3 times the length of the cauda. The body length of adult Vesiculaphis theobaldi apterae is 1.7-2.1 mm.

First image above copyright Ed Baker, all rights reserved.
Second image above by permission of Roger Blackman, copyright AWP all rights reserved.

Alatae have only one very low median process on the head. The antennae are about 0.7 times the body length, and have 20-35 secondary rhinaria on antennal segment III, 8-17 on segment IV, and 4-11 on segment V. There are dark marginal sclerites on the abdomen, and incomplete sclerotic bands on segment VII and VIII.

Vesiculaphis theobaldi feeds on the undersides of leaves of many species of sedge (Carex), and has also been recorded from hare's-tail cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum and sea clubrush (Scirpus maritimus). It is mainly found in shady and humid situations, and is attended by ants. It remains all year on Carex. It produces oviparae and alate males in autumn, but viviparous females may be found through the winter months in England. Vesiculaphis theobaldi is widely distributed in Europe, and eastward to west Siberia.



We have made provisional 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 sp 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.