Lupin aphid

First detected in Britain in 1981, the lupin aphid has become widespread in Britain. This large grey aphid can be found on annual and perennial lupins often causing plants to wilt.

Lupin aphid

Lupin aphid

Quick facts

Common name Lupin aphid
Latin name Macrosiphum albifrons
Plants affected Annual and perennial lupins
Main symptoms Greyish white aphids on the foliage and flowers
Caused by A sap-sucking insect
Timing April-September

What is lupin aphid?

Lupin aphid is a sap-sucking insect in the same group of insects as greenfly and blackfly. It feeds on lupins (Lupinus).  Native to North American it has become widespread in Britain since its arrival in the early 1980s.

 

Symptoms

Keep an eye out for the following on your lupins;

  • Large, greyish-white aphids, up to 4mm long, form dense colonies on the underside of leaves and on the flower spikes
  • Sticky foliage covered with honeydew excreted by the aphids
  • Heavily infested plants often wilt

Control

Non-pesticide control

  • Look for aphids on the underside of leaves from spring onwards
  • Aphids on the foliage and stems might be dislodged with a jet of water or rubbed off by hand but such measures can damage flower spikes
  • This North American aphid does not seem to be kept in check by ladybirds or other aphid predators found in the UK

Pesticide control

  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Ecofective Bug Killer), fatty acids (e.g. Solabiol Bug Free, Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Organic Pest & Disease Control, Bug Clear for Fruit and Veg) can give good control of aphids. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep aphid numbers in check. Plant oil and fatty acid products are less likely to affect larger insects such as ladybird adults
  • More persistent insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
  • Follow label instructions when using pesticides
  • Plants in flower should not be sprayed due the danger to pollinating insects
  • Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener

Download

Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)

Biology

Lupin aphid is present on its host plants all year round.

Small numbers of aphids overwinter on the basal buds and they begin to reproduce in spring. For most of spring and summer the aphids are in the form of wingless females that give birth to live young. Aphid numbers generally peak when the plants are coming into flower.

When the aphids colonies become overcrowded in mid-summer, winged forms develop that can fly and colonise other lupins.


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