ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Biological control of the lettuce root aphid

Updated on May 12, 2016

Controlling the lettuce root aphid in an environmentally friendly way

The lettuce root aphid, Pemphigus bursarius (Order: Homoptera; Family: Pemphigidae) is a host-alternating species that spends autumn, winter and spring on poplars, and summer on various Compositae, in particular lettuce and chicory.

A healthy lettuce head
Rasbak

Biology of the lettuce root aphid

The aphids (all females) that hatch from the overwintering eggs are greyish green and lightly covered with wax. These aphids suck sap from leaf stalks of poplar leaves, which results in the formation of hollow galls that enclose the aphid. The female aphids produce 100-250 offspring inside the gall, which are winged.

Wingless lettuce root aphids near the roots of lettuce
Rasbak

The winged aphids leave the galls and migrate to lettuce and other Compositae. They infest the foliage and produce wingless daughters which are yellowish white with waxy patches on hind part of the body, and which colonise the roots.

In late summer, the wingless aphids produce winged, sexual females and males, which fly back to poplar, where they mate. The females lay the overwintering eggs in crevices in the bark.

Some, however, do not get wings and these ar able to overwinter in the soil.

Damage by lettuce root aphid

Roots of lettuce and chicory become covered in a white, waxy secretion. Because of the aphids feeding from the roots, lettuces have difficulty forming heads. Leaves may turn yellow and plants may wilt and die.

Natural enemies of Pemphigus bursarius

The lettuce root aphid has different natural enemies during its different life stages.

The parasitic wasp: Pachyneuron spp (Pteromalidae)
James K Lindsey

When the galls open for the aphids to migrate to the lettuce plants, Syrphid flies and flower bugs (Anthacoridae) are able to enter the galls and kill all of the aphids. At this stage the main predators are the flower bugs Anthacoris nemorum and A. nemoralis.

During the underground stage, the aphids are attacked by rove beetle (Staphylinidae) and ground beetles (Carabidae). Also larvae ofThaumatomyia glabra and T. notata (Order: Diptera: Family: Chroropidae) are common predators at this stage.

When the sexual aphids leave the lettuce plants to fly back to poplar, they are attacked by ladybirds.

The Chloropid fly, Thaumatomyia notata

Photographer James K. Lindsey

Treatment

  • As the most damaging stage of this aphid lives on roots in the ground, use of chemical pesticides is unreliable and can sometimes even be damaging to the plants. Unfortunately, there is not much one can do against this pest, apart from pulling up lettuce plants that show symptoms of infestation and burning the aphid-infested roots (the heads are still edible if you act early enough!) to prevent further spread.
  • To attract Chloropids, one should grow flat topped flowers around the lettuce. For ground beetles, leave a heap of dead leaves in a corner to provide them with shelter, or place overturned flower pots nearby with uneven rims in which they can shelter.
  • Alternatively, one could grow lettuce plants that are resistant to Pemphigus bursarius

How to control the lupin aphid in a biological way
The lupin aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons (Order: Homoptera; Family: Aphididae) which, as its name suggests, lives on lupin (Lupinus spa), has a bluish-green bo...

Biological control of the cabbage aphid
The cabbage aphid, Brevicoryne brassicae (Order: Hemiptera; Family; Aphididae) is a severe pest on many brassicacea, especially on cabbages, Brussels sprouts...

Biological control of the black bean aphid, Aphis fabae
The black bean aphid, Aphis fabae (Order: Hemiptera; Family: Aphididae), also called blackfly, bean aphid or beet leaf aphid, is a damaging aphid that lives ...

Leave a message here

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I had never heard of the lettuce root aphid but can see how they could devastate a crop. I've only grown leaf lettuce and that seems to do well, grows fast and is harvested often.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)