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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

indian grain aphid (Sitobion miscanthi)

Host plants / species affected
Agropyron (wheatgrass)
Avena sativa (oats)
Bromus (bromegrasses)
Chloris (fingergrasses)
Cynodon (quickgrass)
Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass)
Dactylis glomerata (cocksfoot)
Eleusine coracana (finger millet)
Eleusine indica (goose grass)
Hordeum spp.
Hordeum vulgare (barley)
Miscanthus (silvergrass)
Oryza sativa (rice)
Paspalum dilatatum (dallisgrass)
Pennisetum (feather grass)
Pennisetum glaucum (pearl millet)
Phalaris (canarygrass)
Phragmites australis (common reed)
Poa spp.
Poaceae (grasses)
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)
Secale (rye)
Secale cereale (rye)
Setaria pumila (yellow foxtail)
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)
Triticum aestivum (wheat)
Triticum spp.
Zea mays (maize)
List of symptoms/signs
Leaves  -  abnormal colours
Leaves  -  honeydew or sooty mould
Cereal aphids can reduce yields of wheat, barley, oats and other crops without producing obvious, visible symptoms. Moreover, S. miscanthi usually occurs within a complex of aphid species on cereals. Therefore, there are no clearly distinctive symptoms attributable to S. miscanthi. However, with heavy infestations, yellowing is often discernible on the leaves and earheads (inflorescences) of cereals and the leaves of pasture grasses.
Prevention and control

Host-plant Resistance

The use of resistant varieties of wheat and other cereals can reduce aphid infestations and yield loss. Most of the work on host-plant resistance in cereals has concentrated on other aphid species, such as Schizaphis graminum and Sitobion avenae, rather than S. miscanthi. However, resistant varieties are often effective against cereal aphid species complexes, which may include S. miscanthi. Studies in India have evaluated the impact of S. miscanthi on different wheat varieties (Saikia et al., 1998; Sekhar et al., 2001).

Biological Control

Native parasitoids and predators play a role in controlling outbreaks of S. miscanthi in cereals. The parasitoid Aphidius uzbekistanicus has potential as a biological control agent (Das and Chakrabarti, 1989).

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

S. miscanthi outbreaks can result in significant economic impacts in cereals. The aphids cause direct feeding damage and indirect damage, through the secretion of honeydew (on which sooty moulds grow) and via the spread of plant pathogenic viruses.

S. miscanthi is a vector of barley yellow dwarf luteovirus (BYDV) and millet red leaf persistent luteovirus (MRLV) (Blackman and Eastop, 2000). It transmits BYDV in a persistent manner. BYDV is most serious when plants are infected early in the season. In Australia, S. miscanthi is a minor vector of BYDV in pasture grasses and cereals. BYDV has been estimated as causing annual production losses in Australian cereals of US$ 40 million, with similar losses in pasture grasses (Hales et al., 1990).

During direct feeding, nutrients, amino acids and carbohydrates are extracted from leaves and earheads, while some plant physiological processes may be disrupted. Honeydew and sooty moulds interfere with light capturing by green tissues and reduce photosynthetic efficiency. Damage is dependent on the number of tillers infested, the number of aphids per tiller and the duration of infestation. The resulting yield loss can be quantified in terms of a reduced number of earheads, reduced number of grains per head or reduced seed weight. Maximum yield losses in cereals are most likely to occur because of attack between ear emergence and flowering. S. miscanthi feeds on leaves, moving to the earheads as they develop.

The crop most affected by S. miscanthi is wheat. S. miscanthi is a major pest of wheat, for instance, in northern India. Its pest status increased during the 1970s in India following the introduction of high-yielding Mexican varieties and the increased use of fertilizers and irrigation. S. miscanthi is most numerous during February and March, with peak populations coinciding with the heading phase of wheat (Grewal and Bain, 1975; Sandhu and Deol, 1975). In a study in the Punjab, India it was estimated that populations of 1-20, 21-40 and 41-60 aphids per earhead reduced the thousand-grain weight by 4.7%, 13.2% and 26.4%, respectively. S. miscanthi was the dominant aphid on wheat recorded in this study, but Rhopalosiphum maidis was also present (Grewal and Bain, 1975).

S. miscanthi can cause significant losses in barley, oats, rye and sorghum (Aggarwal and Hameed, 1972; Hameed et al., 1975a). It is a minor pest of rice (Yano et al., 1983) and a range of other cereal crops.
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