Psylliodes affinis (Paykull, 1799)

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CHRYSOMELOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CHRYSOMELIDAE Latreille, 1802

ALTICINAE Newman, 1834

Psylliodes Latreille, 1829

This species is generally common throughout Europe from, the Mediterranean north to the UK and into southern Fennoscandia, it is widespread in North Africa and extends east through Asia Minor and Russia to northern Kazakhstan and Central Siberia, and following accidental introductions in the 1960s it is now established and widespread in the eastern United States and Canada. In the UK it is generally common across Wales and England north to Leeds although absent from most of the West Country, and much more local and scarce further north to the Scottish border and in Ireland. Adults occur year-round and are active over a long season; they overwinter in tussocks or among litter etc. emerge during April or May and persist into the autumn. Host plants include various Solonaceae, typically Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamarae L.), but also Black Nightshade, (S. nigrum L.), Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger L.) and Deadly Nightshade Atropa belladonna L. among others, they also occasionally attack potato, tomato and ornamental tobacco plants but any damage is usually slight. Adults are likely to occur wherever the hosts are common and this includes both wet and dry habitats on a range of soil types; gardens, allotments, road verges, meadows, heath and moorland, dunes, wetland margins and open woodland etc, they fly well and move to host plants early in the year where they feed on foliage and mate. Oviposition occurs over a long period during spring and early summer, females bury small groups of eggs in the soil around host stems and move between plants as they do so, often taking flight to visit more distant plants. Larvae emerge after a week or so and begin to mine the roots but as they grow larger they feed externally, they are fully-grown within a month and pupate in a cell within the soil. The first new-generation adults appear in July and they continue to emerge into September or October although they have also been recorded in April suggesting that larvae or pupae may also occasionally overwinter. Adults are easily sampled by sweeping host foliage through the spring and summer although they jump powerfully and readily take flight, and they will occasionally be found swarming in very large numbers towards the end of summer on plants extensively damaged by adult feeding.

Psylliodes affinis 1

Psylliodes affinis 1

Psylliodes affinis 2

Psylliodes affinis 2

Psylliodes affinis 3

Psylliodes affinis 3

Psylliodes affinis 4

Psylliodes affinis 4

2.0-2.9mm. Very distinctive among our fauna due to the small size, 10-segmented antennae and dorsal colour. Head black or dark brown, pronotum orange or reddish, elytra yellow with the suture darkened and often a variable triangular dark area below the scutellum, underside black. Hind femora black or dark brown, legs otherwise substantially pale brown to yellow, antennae pale brown, becoming darker towards the apex. Head visible from above, with large convex eyes and almost flat, very finely punctured vertex. Pronotum transverse, widest between acute posterior angles and narrowed to long, projecting margins before a rounded apical margin, surface punctures moderately strong and dense, without smaller punctures in between. Elytra with sloping shoulders and gradually narrowed to a continuously rounded apical margin, striae strongly punctured in the basal half then fading apically. Hind tibiae weakly curved externally and excavate towards the apex to accommodate the tarsi. Basal segment of hind tarsi long and narrow, in life strongly angled with the rest of the segments. Males may be distinguished by the overall narrower form and broader, more rounded basal segment of the front tarsi.

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