Aphid is on the move

October 24, 2017

A recently discovered aphid species which affects vetches, faba beans and broad beans is spreading accross the country.

Growers and agronomists suspecting the presence of a recently-discovered aphid species which affects vetches, faba beans and broad beans can seek assistance with aphid identification through a Grains Research and Development Corporation-supported service.

Entomologists at cesar research organisation in Melbourne can inspect high quality images and aphid samples to determine whether crops are infested with the new pest, Megoura crassicauda.

The identification service is being made available through the GRDC’s investment in the PestFacts south-eastern invertebrate crop pest information platform.

Entomologist Julia Severi, from cesar, said M. crassicauda was an aphid species native to north-east Asia and since its initial detection in suburban Sydney in October last year, its known distribution had expanded to Tamworth and Breeza in northern NSW.

‘‘It is unclear where else the aphid is present, or how quickly it is likely to spread into new regions,’’ Ms Severi said.

‘‘And while little is known about the potential economic impact, observations of its activity in Australia so far indicate that the aphid has a high reproductive capacity and could threaten faba and broad bean production.’’

Ms Severi said the aphid had a distinctive appearance.

Adults are dark green and spindle-shaped with long antennae and black legs.

They are relatively large aphids — about 2.5 to 3mm in length — and have vibrant red eyes.

M. crassicauda can form mixed colonies with pea aphid and cowpea aphid, two species which are widespread in Australia and infect faba beans and vetch.

Ms Severi said M. crassicauda were known to reproduce asexually (female aphids giving birth to live nymphs without mating) and sexually (females laying eggs after mating).

In terms of management, there are no current registered insecticides for the pest.

More information about cesar’s aphid identification service is available by phoning 93494723 or emailing:

Detections of unusual aphid species should be reported to the appropriate biosecurity agency. The Exotic Plant Pest Hotline number is 1800 084 881.

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