Large Willow Aphid Tuberolachnus salignus
 
This distinctive and enigmatic aphid has been of interest to HBRG for a few years, but before this year had been found in Highland only at Strathpeffer in December 2012.  Autumn 2014 was a very good year for the aphid, found in good numbers and hugely extending our knowledge of the insect in Highland.  In contrast, 2015-16 produced only two reports, so it obviously has good and bad years.

Good sources of background information are the NHM site, Influential Points, Harper Adams University, LNHG and EOL.  Unlike most aphids, this one is easy to recognise from the large size (up to 5-6mm), association with willow in winter, and the 'shark-fin' tubercle on the back.

Between now and the end of the year, check any willows you encounter, find a Large Willow Aphid, and let us know about it in the usual way!  You should look for blackish patches (the aggregations of aphids) on the underside of old - but still smooth - wood twigs 1-3cm in diameter.  Oddly, they do not seem to prefer the soft, thin-barked young twigs one would have thought would have been easier to penetrate.


Photos © Murdo Macdonald, Jane Bowman (JB), Carole Mason (CM).
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