Rhopalosiphum padi L Birdcherry aphid

The bird-cherry aphid is an often common pest of cereals, including barley, oats and wheat. In mild regions (including southwest England), where populations survive the winter on these secondary hosts, the aphids are particularly important as vectors of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV). Early-sown winter cereals are most at risk from aphids migrating into them in September and October from grasses and cereal stubble. Direct damage to crops in summer is rarely of significance, although the aphids may cause stunting and discoloration of foliage. In some years, heavy infestations develop during the late summer on maize and sweet corn. The aphids often then occur beneath leaves shielding the developing cobs, and affected tissue becomes soiled by sticky honeydew and blackened by sooty moulds.

BIOLOGY

This often abundant species occurs on grasses and cereals. Under mild conditions, it overwinters parthenogenetically on these secondary hosts. Overwintering aphids on autumn-sown cereals and grasses usually occur on the shoots, just below the soil surface. Other populations overwinter in the egg stage on Prunus padus, the primary host, these eggs being deposited from September to November. Spring colonies on Prunus occur from April onwards, and culminate in the production of winged forms which migrate to cereals and grasses in May and early June. Aphids on Poaceae in summer occur mainly on the lower leaves but, if numerous, may become established on other aerial parts of the plants. On oats, and also on maize and sweet corn, the aphids often feed within the shelter of the leaf sheaths.

DESCRIPTION

Aptera 2mm long; body rather plump, brownish-green to olive-green, with a conspicuous rusty-red patch around the base of each siphunculus and near the base of the cauda; antennae short; siphunculi pale, flanged apically and slightly tapered; cauda elongate and tapered (Fig. 193b); front of head with lateral prominences slightly higher than the median bulge (Fig. 189h).

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