Description and identification

RWA are small, pale green in colour, elongate and spindle-shaped, often with a fine dusting of whitish wax. Apterous (wingless) adults have very short antennae, about 0.33 to 0.5 body length, and very short siphuncles ('exhaust pipes') which initially appear absent to the naked eye. The alate (winged) adults are small, up to 2mm in length, with body-length antennae and are generally darker in colour with dusky colouration on parts of the body, particularly the thorax. They have two 'caudal processes' (short tails) on the end of the abdomen, one above the other, giving the appearance of a 'double tail'. Their general small size, green colour, elongate shape, very short antennae and apparent lack of cornicles are characteristics that can readily distinguish RWA from other aphids found in Australian cereal crops.

Russian wheat aphid
Russian wheat aphid
Rear end of RWA with distinctive double tails
Rear end of RWA with distinctive double tails
Rear end of RWA showing indistinct, short siphuncles
Rear end of RWA showing indistinct, short siphuncles
RWA with skins (moults) on leaf with typical symptoms
RWA with skins (moults) on leaf with typical symptoms
RWA of different stages. Note the very short siphuncles on largest aphid which appear as two dark spots.
RWA of different stages. Note the very short siphuncles on largest aphid which appear as two dark spots.
RW aphid colony inside sheaf at base of leaves
RW aphid colony inside sheaf at base of leaves

More information on distinguishing characteristics of RWA appear in the GRDC I SPY manual (Page 39)

Page Last Reviewed: 03 Jun 2016
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