Brevicoryne brassicae (L.)
Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Hemimetabola Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Aphidoidea, Aphididae.
Common name: Cabbage aphid.
Geographical distribution: Wherever wild or cultivated Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) grow. CIE Map #37, 1992 (revised).
Host plants: Wild and cultivated members of the family Brassicaceae.
Morphology: Body of apterous female light green with darker spots on head and abdomen and covered with a whitish secretion. The alate female is mostly black, with greenish abdomen; length 1about 2 mm. Siphunculi dark-brown or green, short, cauda as long as siphunculi, triangular in shape, dark green.
Life cycle: This aphid reproduces by parthenogenesis throughout the year. Its threshold of development is around 4.5°C, enabling the pest to reproduce during winter, the main season of Brassicaceae crops in the Middle East. The aphid produces a male-attracting sex pheromone. The aphid obtains glucosinolates from its cole diet and this chemical serves as an effective defense system against coccinellid predators.
Economic importance: The cabbage aphid feeds on both sides of leaves, in leaf folds and near leaf axils. This causes leaf curling and yellowing, plant stunting and reductions of the yield of cole crops. Although the pest’s honeydew output is meager, its presence on cauliflower and broccoli heads, or hidden within cabbage leaves, may lead to the rejection the entire harvest. Ornamentals, such as Matthiola, can also be damaged. In addition, the pest transmits several plant viruses.
Monitoring: The pest can be monitored with yellow pans containing water, or by traps baited with the aphid’s sex pheromone.
Cultural control: Intercropping with other crops (e.g. grains) may reduce cabbage aphid numbers, as will plowing the field after harvest, and removing alternate cruciferous host plants, including weeds, from the surrounding areas.
Plant resistance: Different varieties of crucifeous crops show varying levels of resistance to the aphid. The mechanisms include mechanical factors that hinder the penetration of the pest’s mouthparts into the plants and chemical components that vary in the different plant species.
Chemical control: The pest has developed much resistance to synthetic insecticides. Extracts from various plants (like Melia azedarach L., Mentha piperata L. and others) provided some control. Insecticidal soaps were also used and seeds coated with imidacloprid gave good control. Due to the waxy nature of the pest and of the crops, a surfactant should be added to any spray.
Biological control: A major natural enemy of this aphid is the host-specific braconid endoparasitoid Diaeretiella rapae (M’Intosh), which is attracted to the pest by its sex pheromone. Other controlling insects include Coccinellidae, syrphid fly larvae, and lacewing larvae. Several entomopathogenic fungi sometimes kill the pest.
Ahmad, M. and Akhtar, S. 2013. Development of insecticide resistance in field populations of Brevicoryne brassicae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in Pakistan. Journal of Economic Entomology 106: 954-958.
Ester, A., de Putter, H. and van Bilsen, J.G.P.M. 2003. Filmcoating the seed of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. convar. capitata L.) and cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis L.) with imidacloprid and spinosad to control insect pests. Crop Protection 22: 761-768.
Gabrys, B.J. (and 6 co-authors) 1997. Sex pheromone of cabbage aphid Brevicoryne brassicae: Identification and field trapping of male aphids and parasitoids. Journal of Chemical Ecology 23: 1881-1890.
Gabrys. B. and Pawluk, M. 1999. Acceptability of different species of Brassicaceae as hosts for the cabbage aphid. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 91: 105-109.
Kazana, E. (and 7 co-authors). 2007. The cabbage aphid: a walking mustard oil bomb. Proceedings of Biological Sciences 274: 2271–2277.
Kift, N.B., Ellis, P.R., Tatchell, G.M. and Pink, D.A.C. 2000. The influence of genetic background on resistance to the cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) in kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala). Annals of Applied Biology 136: 189-195.
Mekuaninte, B., Yemataw, A., Alemseged, T. and Nagappan, R. 2011. Efficacy of Melia azedarach and Mentha piperata plant extracts against cabbage aphid, Brevicoryne brassicae (Homoptera: Aphididae). World Applied Science Journal 12: 2150-2154.
Ryabov, Ev, 2007. A novel virus isolated from the aphid Brevicoryne brassicae with similarity to Hymenoptera picorna-like viruses. Journal of General Virology 88: 2590-2595.
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