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Aphid predator (Hemiptera : Miridae)

Psallus ambiguus

On this page: Identification & Distribution Biology & Ecology Biological Control of Aphids

Identification & Distribution

Psallus species are small mottled red, grey or dark brown bugs with the pronotum and forewings covered in scale like golden hairs and with the tibial spines arising from black spots. Psallus ambiguus is blackish-brown often with an orange-red suffusion over the cuneus (this seems to be especially the case in females). The first antennal segment is black; the second segment is black in males, but partly pale over the basal half in females; the third segment is pale in both sexes. It is one of the larger Psallus species with a body length of >4 mm.

Psallus ambiguus is found on a range of deciduous trees including apple (Malus), hawthorn (Crataegus), sallow (Salix) and alder (Alnus). It is distributed throughout Europe, and is common in many areas. It is both phytophagous and zoophagous, and the nymphs probably need animal food to grow.


Biology & Ecology

We have found Psallus ambiguus associated with the aphid Amphorophora rubi on bramble (Rubus fruticosus) (see picture of aphids below).


Biological control

Psallus ambiguus is one of several species of heteroptera reported by Dicker (1967) as predatory on European red mite (Panonychus ulmi) in orchards in England. Similarly Korcz (1967) noted that Psallus ambiguus was an important predator in Polish orchards.


For the mirid bugs we have used Southwood & Leston (1959) and British Bugs to aid in identification and for the key characteristics.

For aphids 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 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).

Useful weblinks


  • Dicker (1967). In Delucchi, V.L. (ed). (1976) Studies in Biological Control. Cambridge University Press.

  • Korcz (1967, 1969). In Delucchi, V.L. (ed). (1976). Studies in Biological Control. Cambridge University Press.