Lupin aphid

First detected in Britain in 1981, the lupin aphid is now widespread throughout Britain. This large aphid attacks annual and perennial lupins often causing plants to wilt.

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 introduction 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 usually wilt

Control

Non-chemical control

  • Look for aphids on the underside of leaves from spring onwards
  • Physical control is not easy. 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, other aphid predators found in the UK

Chemical control

  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Defenders Bug Killer, Ecofective Bug Killer (also contains fatty acids)), fatty acids (e.g. Bayer Bug Free, Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Organic Pest & Disease Control, BugClear for Fruit & 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
  • More persistent insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer), deltamethrin (e.g. Bayer Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Pest Killer) and cypermethrin (e.g. Py Bug Killer)
  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) can also be used
  • 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 increase in number 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 become overcrowded in mid-summer, winged forms develop that can fly away and colonise other lupins.

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  • Mrs A Sutherland

    By Mrs A Sutherland on 07/05/2014

    Can anyone tell me if this lupin aphid could be responsible for the non appearance of my lupins this year? The plants affected are only one to two years planted and are yellow and red varieties The old pink ones are fine! Would appreciate any advice, thanks.


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