Palm Aphid Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Aphidae: Hormaphidinae)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00000867/00001
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Title: Palm Aphid Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Aphidae: Hormaphidinae)
Series Title: Featured Creatures
Physical Description: Fact Sheet
Creator: Wells, Bonnie C.
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2012
Abstract: The palm aphids are the only aphids known to infest palm plants. High populations occasionally become severe in nurseries and the landscape, and can cause substantial damage to young coconut palms. They pierce palm foliage and suck out the plant phloem content, causing yellowing of the tissues and loss of plant vigor. In addition, honeydew production by the aphids promotes sooty mold growth that can limit photosynthesis. Palms heavily infested with aphids can experience stunted growth.
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Diana Hagan.
Publication Status: Published
General Note: "Publication #EENY-520"
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Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00000867:00001


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EENY-520 Palm Aphid Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Aphidae: Hormaphidinae) 1Bonnie C. Wells2 1. This document is EENY-520, one of a series of the Entomology and Nematology Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date March 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu 2. B onnie C. Wells, professor Agronomy Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim DeanIntroductione palm aphids, Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel) and C. lataniae (Boisduval), are the only aphids known to infest palm plants. ese species are dierentiated by the presence of dagger-like setaea highly variable morphological trait occurring in C. brasiliensis is makes some taxonomists question whether the two are actually separate species. ese two Cerataphis species, along with C. orchidearum, the orchid aphid, are commonly confused. e palm aphid can be a major pest of young landscape palms, especially coconut palms (Cocos nucifera L.).SynonymyCeratovacuna brasiliensis Hempel (1901) Astegopteryx fransseni Hille Ris Lambers (1933) Aleurocanthus palmae Ghesquiere (1934) Cerataphis palmae Ghesquiere (1947) Cerataphis fransseni Hille Ris Lambers (1953) Cerataphis variabilis Hille Ris Lambers (1953)DistributionCerataphis brasiliensis is native to Southeast Asia but commonly occurs on host plants in tropical humid regions worldwide, both outdoors and in greenhouses. e aphid likely was disseminated by international commerce of living palm plants beginning in the early 20th century (Howard et. al 1998). In the United States, the aphid is common in southern Florida, but rare north of Lake Okeechobee. e palm aphid has been reported in the following Florida counties: Brevard, Broward, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, MiamiDade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, St. Lucie, and Seminole (Hunsberger et al. 2006). Descriptione palm aphid does not look like a typical aphid; rather, it resembles a whitey or scale insect. e palm aphid has a slightly convex to at, oval-shaped body with a white, waxy fringe. In all life cycle stages of the aphid, a pair of small spikes, or horns, occur on the frontal head region. e horns appear to be used for oensive and defensive dueling at feeding sites (Howard et al. 1998). In addition, some individuals have several pairs of small dagger-like setae on the ventral side of the head.


2 AdultsAdult palm aphids are wingless and have an oval, slightly convex body that is dark brown and shiny with a peripheral fringe of white wax plates. ey range in size from 1 to 2 mm long. Abdominal segments are evident on adult aphids, but they are more distinctive on nymphs. A distinctive transverse suture in the middle of the dorsum, or back, divides the body, and a short free segment called a cauda occurs at the anal end of the body from which they can forcibly eject honeydew droplets up to 1/2 inches away. Adult palm aphids have short, cone-like, abdominal tubes called siphunculi, through which it is believed they exude droplets of waxy defense compounds. Two eyes appear as dark spots that are ush with the surface of the body. e aphids have functional legs, but remain mostly sedentary unless disturbed. Palm aphid adults are commonly confused with whitey pupae. NymphsCerataphis brasiliensis has three nymphal stages. Nymphs are smaller (up to 1 mm long) than adults and have a light green to olive color body that is oval and slightly convex and contains a white waxy fringe on dorsal edges. Abdominal segments of the nymphs are evident, and a mid-dorsal ridge occurs on the head and thorax. Functional legs can be seen hidden under the body. Life Cycle Figure 1. Adult palm aphid, Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel). Credits: David Cappaert, Department of Entomology, Michigan State University Figure 2. Adults (dark brown) and nymphs (light green or olive) of the palm aphid, Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel). Credits: Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida Figure 3. Ants exhibiting mutualistic relationship with the palm aphid, Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel). Credits: Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida


3 e palm aphid is usually found on the unopened fronds and the youngest two or three fronds and occasionally on young fruits of the host palms. e aphids can appear motionless while feeding for long periods of time. Palm aphids are associated with ants and involve the typical mutualistic ant-aphid relationship where ants supply protection to the aphids and derive honeydew for their consumption. In its native host range, C. brasiliensis is polymorphic and alternates its life cycle between a dicotyledonous primary host, Styrax benzoin, and monocotyledonous secondary hosts in the Arecacae family (palms). Cerataphis brasiliensis is capable of surviving and reproducing on palms alone, without the primary host. However, only parthenogenetic reproduction occurs in the absence of the dicot host. Second-instar sterile soldiers are produced on the secondary host (Aoki and Kurosu 2010). In Florida, where Styrax benzoin is not present, multiple generations of the palm aphid can develop per year. Especially high populations can be observed during warmer months, allowing them to become pests of several palm species. In the presence of the primary dicot host, sexual reproduction occurs and colonies are formed within galls. e gall forming aphid, or fundatrix, transforms an axillary bud of S. benzoin into a sac-like, single-cavity gall. e walls of the gall become lignied and hardened, unlike the soer walled galls of related species (Aoki and Kurosu 2010). e gall inhabiting colony is guarded by a rst instar sterile soldier caste of the aphid that attempts to protect the colony from predation (Stern 1995). Predaceous larvae and adults of Mimemodes spp. beetles have been identied within galls of C. brasiliensis. Interestingly, syrphid larvae, the most common aphid predators, and parasitoid wasps, have not been found in association with C. brasiliensis galls. e palm aphid will also induce galls of dierent species on the same host tree (Aoki and Kurosu 2010). HostsCerataphis brasiliensis alternates between two host species in its native range. Colonies are formed within galls on the dicotyledonous tree Styrax benzoin and live externally on the green tissue of palm species. However, palm aphids can survive exclusively on palms where Styrax does not exist. e palm aphid infests several species of palms but prefers the Malayan Dwarf variety of coconut palm (Coco nucifera). Other hosts of the palm aphid include the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera; the Chinese fan palm, Livistonia chinensis; the Alexander palm, Ptychosperma elegans; and the Washington palm, Washingtonia robusta .Economic ImportanceHigh populations of palm aphids occasionally become severe in nurseries and the landscape. Palm aphids can cause substantial damage to young coconut palms. Palm aphids pierce palm foliage and suck out the plant phloem content, causing yellowing of the tissues and loss of plant vigor. In addition, honeydew production by the aphids promotes sooty mold growth that can limit photosynthesis. Palms heavily infested with aphids can experience stunted growth.ManagementCarefully monitoring newly purchased palms for the presence of aphids is the rst line of defense for their management in the landscape. Excluding these pests in the landscape will help prevent damaging outbreaks. If high populations of palm aphids are observed, the use of biological controls can be successful because of the aphids limited mobility on plants. Syrphid (Diptera: Syrphidae) and ladybird beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) larvae commonly feed on palm aphids and can be released for control of palm aphid infestations (Howard 2001). Palms should be monitored for sooty mold production to determine if they are infested with aphids. Homeowners should scout their palms monthly for the presence of both aphids and natural enemies. If high populations of aphids are observed with few to no natural enemies present, horticultural oil can be applied for control. For professional growers of palms, an insecticide may be necessary Figure 4. Sootymold, on palm fronds, growing on honeydew released by feeding from the palm aphid, Cerataphis brasiliensis (Hempel). Credits: Douglas Caldwell, University of Florida


4 for control. Numerous insecticides are labeled for aphid control, yet the most ecacious product for the control of C. brasiliensis has not yet been determined. Pyrethroids can kill natural enemies and should be considered as a last option only. Florida insect Management Guide for commerical foliage and woody ornamental arthropod pest managementSelected References Aoki S, Kurosu U. 2010. A review of the biology of Cerataphidini (Hemiptera, Aphididae, Hormaphidinae), focusing mainly on their life cycles, gall formation, and soldiers. Psyche 2010:1-34. Denmark HA. (October 1965). e palm aphid, Cerata phis variabilis H.R.L. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry Entomology Circular 41:1 p. Enobakhare DA. 1994. Occurrence and distribution of Cerataphis palmae (Ghesquierei) (Homoptera: Pemphigidae) on Raphia palms in southern Nigeria. Insect Science and its Applications 15: 101-104. Howard J. 2001. Insects of Palms. CAB International. 400 pp. Howard FW, Halbert S, Giblin-Davis R. 1998. Intraspecic dueling in palm aphids, (Homoptera: Hormaphididae). e Florida Entomologist 81: 552-554. Hunsberger A, Gabel K, Mannion C, Buss EB, Buss L. (August 2006). Palm Aphids ( spp.) http://trec.ifas.u. edu/mannion/pdfs/PalmAphid.pdf (21 February 2012). Josephraikumar A, Rajan P, Mohan C, Krishnakumar V. 2011. Report of the palm aphid, on Kalparaksha coconut cultivar. Phytoparasitica 39: 389-391. Mews C, Cabette S, Albino J. 2008. A closer look at intraspecic variation of (Hempel) (Hemiptera: Hormaphididae). Neotropical Entomology 37: 137-142. Redford A, Walters T, Hodges A, Howard FW, Trice M. (October 2010). A Resource for Pests and Diseases of Cultivated Palms. http://itp.lucidcentral.org/id/palms/ sap/Palm_Aphids.htm (21 February 2012). Reinert JA, Woodiel NL. 1974. Palm aphid control on Malayan dwarf coconut palms. e Florida Entomologist 57:411-414. Russell LM. 1996. Notes on and synonyms, and (Homoptera: Aphididae), with a key to species living on palms and orchids. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 98:439-449. Stern D. 1995. Phylogenetic evidence that aphids, rather than plants, determine gall morphology. Proceedings: Biological Sciences 260: 85-89. Stern D, Aoki S, Kurosu U. 1995b. e life cycle and natural history of the tropical aphid (Homoptera: Aphididae: Hormaphidinae), with reference to the evolution of host alternation in aphids. Journal of Natural History 29: 231-242.