Rose aphid

Macrosiphum rosae

Hemiptera: Aphididae

Viviparity: Female giving birth to live young

Newport Beach, CA

© Peter J. Bryant.
Text © Britton Jacob-Schram.
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Sibling nymphs

The Rose aphid is a small (3/32 in., or 3 mm long) aphid.

Apterous adult

This apterous adult (Greek apteros, from a- + pteron wing : lacking wings) is from the light green species. Others may be tinted with more pink.

Winged female and offspring

Aphids are well known for their peculiar modes of reproduction and development. They have complicated and varied life cycles including the capability of assuming different bodily forms, or polymorphism; parthenogenesis, development from unfertilized eggs; viviparity, the ability to bear live young; and both winged and wingless generations.


Aphids, aphid carcasses, Argentine ants, predatory larvae

Aphids secrete a viscous sugary substance known as honeydew, which is attractive to other insects. As honeydew accumulates on leaves, a black sooty mold often follows which to humans can be very unsightly. Ants are particularly fond of honeydew, and (as displayed especially by the Argentine Ant) may actually care for the aphids by moving them around the host plant in order to ensure the aphids’ safety from predation and parasites. The ants practice a technique called milking, in which the ant strokes the aphid with its antennae so as to induce the aphid to release the honeydew. The interactions between ant and aphid have inspired the name “ant cattle” for aphids. This image also shows a predatory larva of a syrphid fly.

Parasitic Wasp, Lysiphlebus (=Aphidius) testaceipes, threatening aphid

Rose aphids may become parasitized with larvae of the wasp, Lysiphlebus testaceipes (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). This wasp therefore helps in biological control of aphids.

Parasitic Wasp…

…depositing egg inside the body of the aphid nymph


Aphid mummy

The wasp larva hatches from the egg inside the aphid. It then grows and metamorphoses into an adult wasp, which cuts a hole in the back of the aphid’s abdomen to emerge. This leaves the aphid’s withered body as a hollowed-out dry shell, called a mummy.

Aphid lion, Chrysopa oculata, larva feeding on aphid

Aphids have many enemies, particularly ladybird beetles, syrphid fly larvae, and this aphid lion, which is the larval stage of a lacewing (Order Neuroptera).