Be on the Lookout for a New Invasive Aphid of Wheat

— Written By and last updated by Carol Hicks
Sipha maydis adult. Photo from J. Sorensen, California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Sipha maydis. Photo from J. Sorensen, California Department of Food and Agriculture.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a new invasive pest of wheat, but an aphid, Sipha maydis, has recently been discovered on Johnson grass in nearby Alabama. A native of the Old World, previously it had spread in the field to Argentina, New Mexico and Colorado. Other greenhouse and produce findings have been made in California, Georgia and Florida. It’s probably a matter of time before we see this insect in North Carolina.

Wheat and barley are this aphid’s preferred hosts, although it can feed on many weedy grasses, corn and sorghum. It is a particular concern in wheat and barley since it can kill leaves and transmit barley yellow dwarf virus. This aphid is smaller than most of our other aphids, dark colored and pear shaped.

aphid wheat

Note: the preceding information was adapted by D. Reisig (NCSU) almost entirely from http://wci.colostate.edu/shtml/Sipha.maydis.shtml and http://entomologytoday.org/2015/02/03/new-invasive-aphid-pest-found-in-albuquerque-area/.