Common name: Aphids, plant lice.
Geographical distribution: World-wide, but more common in temperate zones than in tropical regions. This family, with about 4,500 named species, is the largest in the superfamily Aphidoidea.
Morphology: Aphid adults are about 4-8 mm in length, with soft pear-like bodies that may be green (most common), yellow, brown, red, or black. A few species secrete a waxy whitish threads over their bodies. The wings, when present, are translucent. Aphids possess a characteristic, unique pair of dorsal tube-like appendages, the siphunculi (or cornicles), which project from the posterior part of the abdomen and are used to exude droplets of a defensive fluid. Most aphids also have a tail-like protrusion, the cauda, placed above the rectal aperture; it probably produces alarm pheromones when the aphids are threatened by predators.
Life history: Aphids are phytophagous, feeding by sucking out plant components with their long mouthparts. They usually prefer young foliage, but a few species feed on branches or on roots, and may form galls. Most have complicated life histories, showing much polymorphism. This includes parthenogenetic, sexual, sessile and winged aphids, which occur when migrating between primary and secondary host plants (host alteration). Males are very rare. Aphids reproduce rapidly, often raising more than 20 annual generations, and may increase to large populations. When food quality begins to deteriorate, winged (alate) forms occur. These forms are passively dispersed by winds, often to great distances and to the alternate hosts. Many species are attended by ants that collect their honeydew and protect them from natural enemies.
Economic importance: This family includes many plant pests, which damage their hosts by sucking out plant components, secreting honeydew that serves as substrate for sootymolds and injecting toxins into the host tissues. As a result leaves curl, plants become deformed or discolored and may wilt. In addition, many aphids are vectors of more than 200 plant virus diseases. As a result crop quantity and quality are much reduced and may require costly control measures.
Horticultural methods: Spraying infested garden or other low-growing plants with a strong water jet every few days may suffice in some cases.
Biological control: Aphids are attacked and often controlled by predators of the families Cecidomyiidae, Coccinellidae, and Syrphidae, and by endoparasitoids of the family Aphidiidae. Several entomopathogenic fungi sometimes infect and kill these pests.
Aphid pests included in this compendium
Acyrthosiphon pisum (Pea aphid)
Aphis craccivora (Cowpea aphid)
Aphis fabae (Bean aphid)
Aphis gossypii (Cotton aphid)
Aphis nerii (Oleander aphid)
Aphis pomi (Apple aphid)
Aphis punicae (Pomegranate aphid)
Aphis spiraecola (Spirea aphid)
Brachycaudus amygdalinus (Short-tailed almond aphid)
Brachycaudus helichrysi (Green chrysanthemum aphid)
Brachycaudus schwartzi (Peach curl aphid)
Brevicoryne brassicae (Cabbage aphid)
Diuraphis noxia (Russian wheat aphid).
Dysaphis plantaginea (Rosy apple aphid)
Hyalopterus pruni (Mealy plum aphid)
Myzus persicae (Green peach aphid)
Pentalonia nigronervosa (Banana aphid)
Rhopalosiphum maidis (Corn leaf aphid
Rhopalosiphum padi (Blue berry oat aphid)
Rhopalosiphum rufiabdominalis (Rice root aphid)
Sitobion avenae (Grain aphid)
Therioaphis trifolii (Spotted alfalfa aphid)
Toxoptera aurantii (Black citrus aphid)
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Dixon, A.F.G. 1998. Aphid Ecology (2nd ed.). Chapman and Hall.
Eastop, V.F. and Raccah, B. 1988. Aphid and host plant species in the Arava Valley of Israel: epidemiological aspects. Phytoparasitica 16: 23–32.
El-Heneidy, A. and Adly, D. 2012. Cereal aphids and their biological control agents in Egypt. Review Article. Egyptian Journal of Pest Control 22: 227-244.
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Moran, N.A. and Jarvik, T. 2010, Lateral transfer of genes from fungi underlies carotenoid production in aphids. Science 328 (#5978): 624-627.
Swirski, E. and Amitai, S. 1999. Annotated list of aphids (Aphidoidea) in Israel. Israel Journal of Entomology 33: 1-120.