Biological control of the lupin aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons
The lupin aphid and how to control it in an environmenally friendly way
The lupin aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons (Order: Homoptera; Family: Aphididae) lives, as its name suggests, on lupin (Lupinus sp), and is highly damaging. It has a bluish-green body covered with a white wax. Its large size of 3.5 - 4.5 mm, makes it easily distinguishable from other aphid species.
It is widely distributed in the United States and is now spreading through Europe since its first occurrence in England in 1981.
Biology of the lupin aphid
Macrosiphum albifrons spends its entire life cycle on lupin. The first wingless females appear in June. They reproduce parthenogenetically (i.e. the ova develops without fertilisation) and produce life, parthenogenetic daughters. In hot, dry weather, the population grows rapidly and in July the stems of lupin plants can be completely covered in closely packed aphid colonies.
Damage of the lupin aphid
Natural enemies of the lupin aphid
M. albifrons has a variety of natural enemies: coccinellids, larvae of syrphids and chrysopids, and parasitic wasps. However, these species have little or no impact on the aphids if they occur on bitter cultivars of lupin, as the high alkaloid content of these cultivars render the aphids poisonous to their enemies.
It was found, for example, that larvae of the ladybird Coccinella septempunctata fed on lupin aphids from bitter cultivars (L. albus, L. angustifolius and L. mutabilis) died after around three days. However, hoverfly and lacewing larvae appeared less sensitive and some developed to adulthood.
Such negative effects on the natural enemies were not found on the alkaloid-poor sweet cultivars (especially the sweet cultivar of L. albus).
A Praon wasp parasitised an aphid
On our own lupin we found some lupin aphids that were parasitised by a parasitic wasp (Praon spp). The aphids were transformed into mummies from which later new wasps emerged.
Treatment of the lupin aphid
- To give natural enemies a chance, it is advised to plant sweet cultivars of lupin.
- Lure hoverflies to the garden, by growing flowers with flat flower heads, such as peony, daisy, dill and other crucifera.
A few important or interesting links
- The Lupin Aphid (Macrosiphum albifrons Essig, 1911) (Hom., Aphididae) in West Germany: its occurrenc
The North American Lupin Aphid Macrosiphum albifrons Essig, 1911 has been observed in Europe for the first time in 1981.
- Lupin Aphid
This page contains links to the plant and gardening advice for gardeners.
- Bean yellow mosaic virus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bean yellow mosaic virus
- ASP Net
First Report of Bean yellow mosaic virus from Diseased Lupinus luteus in Eastern Washington
When you buy lupines or lupin seed, get a sweet variety, as these varieties are the least favoured by the lupin aphid!
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