Myzus persicae (Sulzer)
Common name: Green Peach Aphid.
Geographical distribution: Cosmopolitan.
Host plants: Polyphagous, infesting many Cucurbitaceae, Crucifereae, Solanaceae, Malvaceae and other cultivated orchard and crop plants, ornamentals and weeds. Peach is its primary host for sexual reproduction in colder climates.
Morphology: Nymphs are about 2 mm long, olive-green, resembling the parthenogenic females, which reach 2.5 mm in length. The apterate viviparous females are yellow-green, with 3 brown longitudinal lines, one at mid-dorsum the others on each side. The siphunculi are pale green, twice as long as the cauda, slightly swollen in their middle. The antennae emerge from prominent frontal lobes. The head, antennae, thorax and cauda of the alate females are dark.
Life history: In the cool regions of the Middle East sexual (“amphigonic”) females appear in the autumn and lay about a dozen fertilized eggs in crevices on their primary hosts, usually peaches. The eggs remain dormant during winter, hatching in the spring and the emerging nymphs feed on opening buds. They then initiate a few parthenogenic cycles of about two weeks each. Later in the season as host quality declines, alate forms appear and migrate to their diverse alternative (“secondary”) host-plants, on which they establish colonies of apterate adults. Alate forms appear in the fall and fly back to peach trees; these alate can fly over long distances, helped by winds. On peach they produce the sexual forms, males and females. In most of the Middle East the life cycle is usually viviparous parthenogenesis, the pest raising about 20 annual generations. The threshold for development is at 4°C and it is susceptible to temperatures above 25°C.
Economic importance: The damage caused by this pest consists of direct feeding injury along with honeydew excretion, followed by sootymold colonization. The feeding injury results in leaf blemishes, seen as yellow spots, wilting and reduced plant growth, reductions in quantity and quality of many foliage and root crops, and in tissue death. The sooty mold contamination of vegetables and ornamentals at times presents quarantine problems. Certain crops, like potato and spinach are heavily damaged, especially during winter in greenhouses. Indirect, and more serious damage, is caused by the transmission of plant viruses. Myzus persicae is the most important aphid virus vector, being capable of transmitting over 100 persistent and non-persistent virus diseases. These include such extremely debilitating diseases as potato leaf roll virus, potato virus Y (PVY), zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), several viruses of tobacco and others.
Monitoring: Yellow traps, especially water pan traps, are used for monitoring.
Horticultural methods: Removal of non-crop vegetable and flower plants in greenhouses reduces aphid numbers in the following season. In southern Israel pest numbers decline in June–July. Disorienting arriving aphids, and thus reducing pest numbers and virus infections, has been achieved by spraying a crop with highly reflective kaolin-based particles that reflect the sky. As cultivated crops are the major sources for aphid populations, keeping the dry southern Negev region crop-free for about one month reduced pest numbers and virus infections.
Molecular control: Aphids that were offered transgenic potatoes into which genes that encode for 3 insect-inhibiting toxins were inserted, were significantly less fecund than aphids feeding on control plants.
Chemical control: Aphids are difficult to kill with contact insecticides because they are often under or within leaves or within hidden and sheltered growth. Organophosphates and carbamates formulations were used to control the pest, but resistance to these chemicals is increasing. In addition, insecticide use is often disruptive to natural enemies, leading to larger aphid populations. Soil and foliar applications of carbamates controlled the pest in Jordan without affecting the prevailing predators, and a neonicotinoid controlled it on pepper. Neem, alone or in combination with diatomaceous earth provided good control in Italian organic plum orchards and on artichokes, without affecting the natural enemies.
Biological control: The green peach aphid is attacked and sometimes controlled by several hundred species of natural enemies, consisting of parasitoids, predators and diseases. The parasitoids include endoparasitoids of the families Aphidiidae (especially Aphidius) and Braconidae (like Diaeretiella rapae). The predators include Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, Anthocoridae, Cecidomyiidae and Syrphidae. The aphids may sometimes be infected by entomopathogenic fungi, like Verticillium lecanii (Zimmerman) Viegas.
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El-Wakeil, N.E. and Saleh, S.A. 2009. Effects of neem and diatomaceous earth against Myzus persicae and associated predators in addition to indirect effects on artichoke growth and yield parameters. Archives of Phytopathology and Plant Protection 42: 1132-1143.
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