Common Name: Crapemyrtle aphid
Scientific Name: Tinocallis kahawaluokalani (Kirkaldy)
Description: Adult aphids are 1/16-inch long, light green to yellow with black spots and body markings. The second abdominal segment has a double-pronged hump. Wings are clear with dark markings and they are held roof-like over the back of the body. Some adults are wingless. Nymphal stages are yellow and wingless.
Although several other aphid species have been reported to infest crapemyrtles, including cotton or melon aphids (Aphis gossypii Glover) and black citrus aphid (Toxoptera aurantii Boyer de Fonscolombe), the crapemyrtle aphid is the most commonly encountered and can be distinguished from the other aphid species by the hump on the adult second abdominal segment.
Life Cycle: Simple metamorphosis; parthenogenic. Female aphids produce live young, a process called parthogenesis, particularly during the summer months. Nymphal and adult stages can be found on host plants throughout the year, but appear to build up in higher numbers during the hot summer months.
Habitat and Food Source(s): This aphid specifically infests crapemyrtles. Nymphal and adult stages suck plant juices from the underside of leaves they infest. Much of the sap withdrawn from the plant is directly eliminated as a sticky, sugary fluid called “honeydew.” Leaves coated with honeydew become infested with a fungus called sooty mold (Capnodium spp.), which produces a dry-looking black coating on the leaf surface. Heavily discolored leaves drop prematurely. Severity of infestations varies from year-to-year, as populations are affected by environmental conditions and the presence of predaceous insects. Crapemyrtles were originally imported from Asia, and this aphid species was apparently imported with its host or introduced later. No parasitoids are known to attack this aphid in Texas.
Pest Status, Damage: Buildup in high numbers on crapemyrtles, causing a buildup of honeydew and sooty mold and making plants unsightly and unhealthy; medically harmless.
Management: See Aphids in Texas Landscapes.
Literature: Carter et al. 1980; Johnson & Lyon 1988.