Black Peach Aphid, Brachycaudus persicae (Passerini)

I. Introduction: The black peach aphid (BPA) occurs throughout the eastern U.S., but is rarely a serious pest in most commercial orchards. This species is most likely to cause injury in young orchards and nursery plantings.

II. Hosts: Peach, plum, and other trees.

III. Description: Winged and wingless adults are shiny black and about 1/10 inch (2 mm) in length. Nymphs are reddish-brown.

IV. Biology: Wingless forms overwinter on the roots where feeding continues throughout the year. In early spring, some migrate from the roots to new growth above ground and start colonies on the leaves of twigs and shoots. Several generations of female aphids are produced, with unmated adults giving birth to living young. In early summer, winged forms are produced which migrate to other trees to start new infestations. All above ground colonies usually disappear by midsummer as wingless forms migrate to the roots to feed and overwinter.

V. Injury: Of most concern is the feeding of BPA on the roots of young trees which can stunt growth and predispose the tree to damage from other organisms and harsh environmental conditions. Injury from above ground colonies is seldom serious and consists primarily of leaf curling, yellowing, and premature drop. Some fruit distortion may occur. If aphids are abundant, honeydew excretion may result in spotting of leaves and fruit with a black sooty mold.

VI. Monitoring: Begin inspecting the underside of leaves for BPA colonies as growth begins in the spring and continue until midsummer. It is important to detect above ground colonies when they first appear, especially on young trees, since these are easier to manage than root infesting forms. Examine the soil for aphids at the base of trees if monitoring has revealed any above ground colonies or if trees appear stunted or unhealthy. No validated thresholds have been developed for BPA. A management strategy should be implemented if one colony per tree is found on trees up to three years old. Older trees should receive treatment if monitoring reveals an average of more than two colonies per tree.

This is taken primarily from a chapter by H. W. Hogmire and D. F. Polk on peach indirect pests, reprinted with permission from Mid-Atlantic Orchard Monitoring Guide, published by NRAES, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853-5701. (607) 255-7654.
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