Friday, July 17, 2015

Pest of the month: The Giant Conifer Aphid

I have written about aphids on bonsai before (see  and This time, it’s about two aphid species I found at Fujikawa Kouka-en Bonsai Nursery in Osaka.

I found the first one on a Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii) while pulling out old needles. It turned out to be the Giant Conifer Aphid (Cinara piniformosana, Japanese: matsu-oo-aburamushi). Image 'A' shows this aphid after it’s been soaked in acid and squashed for examination under the microscope. When alive, it’s blackish-brown dusted with grey and can be with or without wings. Japanese Black and Red Pines are its main host plants. In spring, you may find this aphid near the bases of new candles. Later in the year, they move on to one or two-year-old branches (exactly where I found it). They pierce needles and stems of the pine with their stiletto-shaped mouth parts and feed on pine sap (what a treat!). This aphid is native to the Far East and so far has been introduced only to Brazil.

The second aphid was collected on one of the deciduous trees at the nursery. It was the Oriental Citrus Aphid (Toxoptera citricida, Japanese: mikan-kuro-aburamushi, see image 'B'). It is a pest of citrus in Australia. I’ve written about a similar species, the Black Citrus Aphid (Toxoptera aurantii), in one of the blog posts mentioned above.

I fully understand that blog posts like this amuse only myself and are dreadfully boring to everyone else. So, here is something to make it a little more bearable. On one of the cloudy days at Fujikawa Kouka-en, this gorgeous damselfly flew into our workshop (see images below). It’s the Haguro Damselfly (Atrocalopteryx atrata, Japanese: haguro tonbo). It preys on aphids among other insects, so it’s beautiful and beneficial to bonsai trees.


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