What is an aphid?

The life of aphids: a long story

The aphids are plant-consuming, or phytophagous, insects. Highly widespread, they exist in the form of thousands of species. Around 4000 of them have been recorded globally. Fifty or so are extremely important economically as their life and development provoke severe damage to cultivated plants. Aphids have colonized all the world’s environments, the temperate zones where their diversity is greatest but also venturing into the Arctic and tropical regions. They are highly adept at foiling control strategies. However, they will have to face up to the research teams who, by investigate their genome, are determined to decipher its structure and the way it works. To know them better for better to fight them.

Their evolution has seen them develop remarkable capacities for adaptation to their ecological surroundings: high fecundity, varied reproduction strategies, alternation of winged and wingless (apterous) individuals, the exploitation of a wide range of plant types. A great versatility of strategies that enable them to make optimal use of the plants they live on.

They are exclusively phytophagous. With mouthparts geared for piercing and sucking, they can feed on the sap of plants. But this activity can transmit viral particles to the plant, which makes these insects such devastating pests to crops.

Rhopalosiphum padi : fondatrice sur Prunus padus
Aphis spiraecola, colonie sur Photinia
Acyrthosiphon pisum : tête vue de face
Brachycaudus helichrysi : dégât sur tournesol

Rhopalosiphum padi
high fecundity

 Aphis spiraecola
apterous or winged

Acyrthosiphon pisum

feeding on sap

 Brachycaudus hechrysi
damage to sunflower

Modification date : 13 May 2024 | Publication date : 02 November 2009 | Redactor : Evelyne Turpeau, Maurice Hullé, Bernard Chaubet