About the aphid
Next up is Sitobion avenae, also known as English Grain Aphid. The lead picture of a single alate (winged aphid) is one of my favorites I have taken so far and made an appearance in my introductory post. S. avenae is a widely distributed aphid that primarily feeds on grasses. It is notable for being a pest on wheat and other cereals around the world. We raise this species and a number of other grain aphids on barley. While all the individuals in our colonies and pictured here are yellowish green, they can also be found in a reddish brown color. S. avenae is a medium-large sized aphid and fairly easy to spot on leaves and stems.
About the photos
A number of these photos have a dark or black background. This is simply due to the flash coming from overhead, illuminating the aphids much more than the background behind them. There is no special backdrop behind them. If the flash was pointing straight at the aphids from the same direction that the camera sees them, you would see rows of large growth chambers in the basement room where these were taken. The lights were on in the room, but are just much lower intensity than the flash. Since barley leaves and stems are so narrow, it is easier to get a lower angled “eye-level” with these aphids than others on broader leaves.
I tried holding a piece of white paper behind the aphids but was not satisfied with how it turned out grey like this photo of an alate about to take flight.
It is still an interesting action shot, but I think the grey color takes away from it. To get a true white background I think I would have to have more light pointed straight at the paper, or have the paper much closer to the subject. Also a green or blue background could be interesting. Maybe something to try in the future.
Shorter post this time, but more photos. I also took some pretty nice photos of a couple green lacewings (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) yesterday, so may have to take a detour for the next post before getting back to more aphids.
MC Kaiser Blog
Photographs of aphids by an enthusiastic amateur.
Images free for educational use with attribution.
Please contact me for any other uses, or visit my portfolios at Shutterstock and Dreamstime
First post and introduction here
If you are trying to identify live aphids from pictures, I highly recommend the website InfluentialPoints.com
For ID keys and a quite comprehensive catalog of aphids and their host plants see Aphids on the World's Plants
There is always the chance of one of our colonies getting contaminated and me posting a misidentified aphid. These images therefore should not be used to make formal identifications.
Image color and quality may vary slightly between browsers or displays.