Rhopalosiphum padi

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Rhopalosiphum padi adult (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): David Cappaert, Michigan State University
Source: IPM Images

Rhopalosiphum padi (Linnaeus, 1758) - (bird-cherry oat aphid)

The aphid is a serious pest of cereals with a nearly world-wide distribution in temperate regions. The main cereals infested are wheat, barley, oats and maize.

There are few symptoms caused by the feeding activities which nevertheless cause a reduction in tillers and yield. More importantly, it transmits various serious plant viruses, like Barley yellow dwarf virus or Maize dwarf mosaic virus. Although it does not colonize potatoes, it is also an important vector of of Potato virus Y which it transmits when searching for a suitable host plant.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Traubenkirschenlaus
• English: bird-cherry oat aphid
oat aphid
• Español: pulgón verde de la avena
• Français: puceron du merisier à grappes
puceron bicolore des céréales
• Português: pulgão-da-folha

The primary host of the aphid is bird-cherry (Prunus padus), from which it migrates to cereals in the spring, feeding on stems and leaves. The aphid goes through many parthenogenic and wingless generations in the summer, with the females giving birth to live nymphs. Each generation lasts only 1-2 weeks. In the autumn it migrates back to bird-cherry and lays eggs which overwinter.

The apterous females are 1½-2 mm large, round and usually dark olive-green with a reddish patch at the rear end. The winged-forms are dark-green to black.