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Insects and other arthropods

Aphids

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Description

Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects and come in a wide variety of colours.

The great majority of adult aphids are wingless. Males may occasionally have wings, as well as females that need to migrate to new host plants.

Aphids have a tail-like protrusion, or cauda, at the tip of the abdomen. This directs the secretions of a sweet substance called honeydew from their rectal apertures. Many species also have two cornicles – tubes resembling tailpipes – extending from the abdomen.

Life cycle

Juvenile aphids look like their adult counterparts. They undergo four moults before becoming adults. There are significant differences in the aphid’s life cycle, depending on the species. The following describes the life cycle of aphids in temperate countries, which must survive the cold winter and are restricted to one host species.

Aphids overwinter as eggs. In the spring, wingless females hatch from the eggs and give birth, several days later, to live aphids (the eggs hatch inside the body). These aphids are wingless females produced without fertilization. These females and subsequent generations continue to reproduce in this manner, that is, by parthenogenesis. Winged aphids appear periodically and spread to other host plants of the same species in order to create new colonies.

In the fall, females give birth to winged males and wingless females. After mating, the fertilized females lay their eggs on the host plant; once again, the eggs endure the winter and the cycle starts all over again.

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