Raspberry and blackberry aphids

Several species of sap sucking aphids can suck sap from the leaves, shoot tips and flower stalks of raspberry, blackberry and other hybrid berries.

Raspberry with virus transmitted by aphids

Raspberry with virus transmitted by aphids

Quick facts

Common names: Large European raspberry aphid, large blackberry aphid, small European raspberry aphid and scarce blackberry aphid
Scientific names: Amphorophora idaei, A. rubi, Aphis idaei and Macrosiphum funestum
Plants affected: Raspberry, blackberry and hybrid berries
Main symptoms: Leaf curling and lack of vigour, some virus transmission
Most active: Spring and early summer

What are raspberry and blackberry aphids?

Aphids are sap-sucking true bugs that are also known as greenfly or blackfly, several species can affect raspberries, blackberries and other hybrid berries.

Symptoms

There are several species of aphid which can affect raspberry, blackberries, hybrid berries and brambles. They can cause various degrees of leaf distortion and a lack of vigour. They can also transmit plant viruses (see main image for virus-infected raspberries). Frequently encountered species include:

Large European Raspberry aphid, Amphorophora idaei. A pale yellowish green aphid that reaches 4mm in length. The aphid affects raspberries but does not cause damage directly it is however a raspberry virus vector and can transmit raspberry necrosis virus, raspberry leaf mottle virus, raspberry leaf spot virus and rubus yellow net virus. The aphid overwinters as eggs at the base of raspberry stems, these hatch in March the aphids feeding on the shoot tips. Later the aphids live on the undersides of leaves. Winged adults are produced in summer and distribute to other raspberry plants.

Large blackberry aphid, Amphorophora rubi. This species is very similar in appearance and lifecycle to the large European raspberry aphid but affects blackberry and not raspberry.

Small European raspberry, Aphis idaei. This small (2mm long) light green or yellowish aphid affects raspberries and loganberries. Spring infestations can cause leaf curl but it is more important a a vectors of raspberry vein chlorosis virus. This aphid overwinters as eggs in axils and the base of buds towards the top of canes. The eggs hatch in late march and can form dense colonies at the shoot tips. Winged aphids are produced during the summer months which can spread to other bushes.

Scarce blackberry aphid, Macrosiphum funestum. This dull green 4mm long aphid can infest blackberry but it has limited effects on plant vigour or cropping. The aphid overwinters as eggs on the canes. The eggs hatch in spring and colonies can be most obvious in May and June at the shoot tips.

Control

Whilst the raspberry and blackberry aphids do not often directly damage plants they can however, transmit viruses and so control may be considered necessary.

Non-pesticide control

  • Where possible tolerate infestations of blackfly
  • Aphids have many natural enemies, including ladybirds, hoverfly larvae, lacewing larvae and parasitic wasps 
  • Where practical infestations can be squashed by hand

Pesticide control

  • When necessary raspberry and blackberry aphids can be controlled by spraying the foliage of these cane fruits in late April
  • Further treatment may be necessary later in the summer as plants may be re-infested from neighbouring gardens or wild brambles
  • Follow label instructions when using pesticides. On edible plants make sure the food plant is listed on the label and follow instructions on maximum number applications, spray interval and harvest interval
  • 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) 
  • 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)


Gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Find out what to do this month with our gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Did you find the advice you needed?

RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.

Join the RHS now

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.