Asparagus Aphid
Brachycorynella asparagi (Mordvilko), Aphididae, HEMIPTERA


DESCRIPTION

This powdery, pale green aphid is only a few millimeters long. Like other aphids, it is a pear-shaped, soft-bodied insect with a pair of tailpipe-like appendages (cornicles) on its abdomen.


BIOLOGY

Distribution - The asparagus aphid is native to eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area. The first infestation in North America was noticed in New York in 1969. Since that time, the aphid has been reported in New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington.

Host Plants - Asparagus is the only known food plant of this aphid.

Damage - Asparagus aphids feed on cladophylls (modified leaves) and under bracts. They extract sap through their needle-like mouthparts. Heavily infested seedlings may form rosettes or shrivel and die. Similar infestations on older plants may cause severe dwarfing. Fortunately, predators, parasites, and diseases have kept this aphid from becoming a serious pest in most areas.

Life History - The biology of the asparagus aphid has not been formally studied in North America. It probably overwinters as eggs in North Carolina. In spring aphids resume development. Most species of aphids are prolific and produce live young without mating. New generations continue to be produced as long as warm, dry weather continues and host plants are available.


CONTROL

Asparagus aphids are subject to control by at least 31 species of natural enemies (predators, parasites, and diseases). As a result, chemical control is rarely necessary. Should large aphid populations develop, consult the state agricultural extension service or the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual for up-to-date recommendations.

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