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Potato Aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Potato Aphid

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Potato Aphids can infest a variety of vegetable plants including tomatoes, leaving a sad bush and ruined fruit in their wake.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Members of the Aphid family, Potato Aphids are voracious plant suckers. Their mouth parts pierce plant tissue and they suck the life out of leaves and stems when in large numbers. Aphids are rapid reproducers so many generations can infest the same plant, which makes controlling their numbers problematic. Spraying affected plants with insecticide can help for a while, but new eggs that survived the chemical application can hatch and restart a population in weeks if not days. Natural predators are drawn to affected plants, but large populations may survive without a large population of predators to reduce their numbers and maintain them.

Plants suffer from the presence of aphids in a few ways. Depletion of xylem and phloem (water and liquid plant food) weakens and starves it. Many leaves of the plant will dry out and die, making photosynthesis and the creation of glucose difficult. Once leaves shrivel up and die, fruit is exposed to more sunlight than usual which can scald it, making it visually less appealing if not inedible. Aphids also secrete a sweet liquid substance called 'honeydew' which attracts other insects like ants to the plant. The honeydew can grow mold and mildew on it, eventually creating black ashy spots on the plant. One large, healthy population of aphids can do all of this damage despite their diminutive size. This is why the tiny Potato Aphid is the bane of many a gardener.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Garden pest insect icon
Harmful insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Aphididae
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          Genus: Macrosiphum
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            Species: euphorbiae

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Macrosiphum euphorbiae
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 4mm (0.07" to 0.15")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; red; pink
Descriptors: tomato; potato; cluster; congregation; infest; small; harmful; garden pest; crop pest

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 2mm (0.1in) and 4mm (0.2in)
Lo: 2mm
Md: 3mm
Hi: 4mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Potato Aphid may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Potato Aphid. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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