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Aphidinae : Macrosiphini : Vesiculaphis caricis


Vesiculaphis caricis

Vesicular azalea-sedge aphid

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

Identification & Distribution

Adult apterae of Vesiculaphis caricis (see larger aphid, a fundatrix, in first picture below) on the primary host, azalea (Rhododendron spp.) are yellowish green with a brownish tinge, or dark reddish brown, with dark siphunculi and cauda. The species was originally described by Fullaway (1910), from aphids on the secondary host, sedges (Cyperus spp.), as brownish yellow, with similarly-coloured antennae, legs and siphunculi, and a darker cauda. The head is scabrous (rough / scaly), with many minute spicules in rows dorsally along its posterior margin. The front of the head is produced into a ledge, with the median frontal tubercle as a low swelling beneath it (cf. Vesiculaphis theobaldi, which has the front of the head produced into three large, separate processes). The antennae are short, less than half the body length. The apical rostral segment (RIV+V) is 1.0-1.4 times as long as the second hind tarsal segment (HTII). The siphunculi are evenly swollen over most of their length, narrowing apically. The cauda, which is small, dark and triangular, is concealed below the last abdominal segment - also triangular. The body length of adult Vesiculaphis caricis apterae is 1.6-2.0 mm.

Image above by permission, copyright Matt Bertone, all rights reserved.

The alate Vesiculaphis caricis (see two pictures below) has a dark olive-brown head, meso- and metathorax. The prothorax is greenish yellow with a dark olive-brown band, and the abdomen is light green. The antennae are about 0.67 times the body length, and bear many small round secondary rhinaria on segments III, IV & V. The siphunculi are less than 0.75 times the head-width across the eyes. The cauda is triangular, less than 1.5 times as long as its basal width.

Images above by permission, copyright Bill Keim, all rights reserved.

Vesiculaphis caricis host alternates from its primary hosts, rhododendrons and azaleas (Rhododendron species) to its secondary hosts, sedges (Cyperus, Carex, Kyllinga species). In Japan it is an important pest of Shichitoi sedge (Cyperus malaccensis ssp. monophyllus = Carex monophyllus). The vesicular azalea-sedge aphid is native to Korea, China, Taiwan, West Bengal and east Siberia, and has been introduced to southern states of the USA (California, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia).


Other aphids on the same host

Primary hosts

Vesiculaphis caricis has been recorded on 7 Rhododendron species (Rhododendron albrechti, Rhododendron kaempferi, Rhododendron mucronulatum, Rhododendron obtusum, Rhododendron schlippenbachi, Rhododendron simsii, Rhododendron yedoense).

Secondary hosts

Vesiculaphis caricis has been recorded on 1 'true' sedge species (Carex pruinosa subsp. macimowiczii = Carex macimowiczii). It is the only species of aphid known from that host.

Vesiculaphis caricis has been recorded on 4 species of sedge-sensu lato (Cyperus malaccensis, Cyperus microiria, Cyperus rotundus, Cyperus serotinus).


Damage and control

Uye (1925) first reported the migration of the aphid between azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) and the "Shichitoi" sedge. He noted that the alienicolae (=aphids on their secondary host) build up dense colonies on "Shichitoi" sedge, (Cyperus malaccensis ssp. monophyllus = Cyperus monophyllus), from which they may move to some other Cyperus species. In Japan Vesiculaphis caricis is known as an important pest of the Shichitoi sedge (which is used for weaving, especially for a type of expensive mat). A heavy infestation of the aphid may greatly reduce the yield of the sedge, and the black mould growing on the honeydew excreted by the aphid destroys the market value (Miyazaki, 1980).


We are grateful to Matt Bertone & Bill Keim for allowing us to reproduce their images of Vesiculaphis caricis shown above.

We have used the species accounts given by Fullaway (1910) (as Toxoptera caricis), Uye (1925) & Miyazaki (1980), 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


  • Fullaway, D.T. (1910). Synopsis of Hawaiian Aphidae. Annual Report of the Hawaiian Agricultural Experiment Station 1909, 20-46. (p. 31) Full text

  • Miyazaki, M. (1980). A revision of the genus Vesiculaphis Del Guercio with descriptions of four new species (Homoptera: Aphididae). Insecta Matsumurana New series 20, 43-83 (p. 50) Full text

  • Uye. T. (1925). Morphology and life history of Vesiculaphis caricis (Fullaway). Insect World 29(7), 218-223. (p. 219)