Brachycaudus helichrysi Kaltenbach Leafcurling plum aphid

This aphid is a major pest of damson and plum, distorting foliage and stunting growth; affected leaves often turn yellow and may drop prematurely. Infestations may be extensive and can have a considerable effect on cropping, as fruits on affected branches remain small and are of poor quality. Infestations on summer hosts (e.g. chrysanthemum) cause leaf mottling, stunting and distortion; in continental Europe, this species also damages sunflower crops. Infestations on clover (by the distinct form Brachycaudus helichrysi warei Theobald) may result in leaf mottling and reduced seed yield. Brachycaudus helichrysi is a vector of plum pox virus ('Sharka disease'), and a potential vector of non-persistent viruses (e.g. potato virus Y) on crops it feeds upon but does not colonize.


In most parts of its geographical range, this aphid includes an egg stage in the life-cycle, overwintering on damson and plum. At least in England, the eggs often hatch in mid-winter, usually in November and December. Nymphs of this first generation feed at the base of the buds and eventually mature to produce a second generation that may also have commenced feeding before bud-burst. During the spring, heavy infestations often develop on the flower buds and young foliage. Breeding on primary hosts continues throughout the spring, with winged forms appearing in increasing numbers from late May onwards. Colonies on primary hosts usually die out by late June or early July. Colonies on secondary (summer) hosts include both wingless and winged aphids. Breeding culminates in the production of winged males and winged females that fly to primary hosts. The winged females

(gynoparae) then produce a wingless generation of oviparae that, after mating with the winged males, deposit the winter eggs. Under warm conditions (including heated glasshouses in temperate regions) this species breeds partheno-genetically throughout the year and lacks a sexual phase (i.e. is anholocyclic); the clover-inhabiting form B.h. warei is also believed to be anholocyclic.


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