Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Toxoptera citricida
(black citrus aphid)



Toxoptera citricida (black citrus aphid)


  • Last modified
  • 29 March 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Vector of Plant Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Toxoptera citricida
  • Preferred Common Name
  • black citrus aphid
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Wingless adult females (apterae) 1.5-2.8 mm long, oval.
TitleMature apterae
CaptionWingless adult females (apterae) 1.5-2.8 mm long, oval.
CopyrightRay Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
Wingless adult females (apterae) 1.5-2.8 mm long, oval.
Mature apteraeWingless adult females (apterae) 1.5-2.8 mm long, oval.Ray Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
T. citricidus alate - note antena section III and medial vein.
TitleAlate adult
CaptionT. citricidus alate - note antena section III and medial vein.
CopyrightRay Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
T. citricidus alate - note antena section III and medial vein.
Alate adultT. citricidus alate - note antena section III and medial vein.Ray Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
T. citricidus on citrus with mummies.
TitleColony on citrus
CaptionT. citricidus on citrus with mummies.
CopyrightRay Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
T. citricidus on citrus with mummies.
Colony on citrusT. citricidus on citrus with mummies.Ray Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
T. citricidus on citrus with mummies.
TitleColony on citrus
CaptionT. citricidus on citrus with mummies.
CopyrightRay Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service
T. citricidus on citrus with mummies.
Colony on citrusT. citricidus on citrus with mummies.Ray Yokomi/Agricultural Research Service


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Toxoptera citricida (Kirkaldy)

Preferred Common Name

  • black citrus aphid

Other Scientific Names

  • Aphis aeglis Shinji
  • Aphis citricidus (Kirkaldy)
  • Aphis nigricans van der Goot
  • Aphis tavaresi Del. Guercio
  • Myzus citricidus Kirkaldy
  • Paratoxoptera argentiniensis EE Blanchard
  • Toxoptera aphoides van der Goot
  • Toxoptera citricidus Kirkaldy
  • Toxoptera tavaresi (Del Guercio)

International Common Names

  • English: brown citrus aphid; citrus aphid; tropical citrus aphid
  • Spanish: afido moreno de los cítricos; afido vector de la tristaza en citricos; piojo de los citricos; pulgón citricida (Mexico); pulgón de la tristeza; pulgón marrón; pulgón negro de los cítricos; pulgón negro de los citros
  • French: puceron noir de l'oranger; puceron toxoptere citricide
  • Chinese: he juya

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: pulgao preto da laranjeira
  • Germany: Braune Zitrus-Blattlaus; Braune Zitruslaus
  • Japan: abura mushi; mikan-kuro-aburamusi

EPPO code

  • APHICI (Aphis citricidus)
  • TOXOCI (Toxoptera citricida)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hemiptera
  •                         Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
  •                             Unknown: Aphidoidea
  •                                 Family: Aphididae
  •                                     Genus: Toxoptera
  •                                         Species: Toxoptera citricida

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The aphid was first described as Myzus citricidus and was noted to be similar to Myzus cerasi, common on citrus throughout Hawaii, and a likely introduction from China (Kirkaldy, 1907). The species name, citricidus, was derived as a Latin adjective of the noun meaning 'citrus killer' and had a masculine ending to agree with Myzus. It has been suggested that, as Toxoptera Koch is the correct genus for the aphid and is feminine, it is necessary that its nomenclature be feminine (Toxoptera citricida), rather than the feminine/masculine combination (Toxoptera citricidus) (Stoetzel, 1994b); however, T. citricidus continues to be widely used in the literature.


Top of page Of the 16 to 20 aphid species reported to feed on citrus, five species are most commonly encountered: T. citricida; Aphis spiraecola; Aphis gossypii; Toxoptera aurantii; and Aphis craccivora (the latter is not common). Adult T. citricida are shiny-black and nymphs are grey or reddish-brown, but colour alone is not distinctive because other aphids on citrus have dark coloration.

Winged adult female (alata): 1.1-2.6 mm in length; antennae six segmented with I, II, and III heavy black and other segments banded at joints, secondary rhinaria 7-20 on III and 0-4 on IV, setae on antennae III subequal to or exceeding diameter of segment; siphunculi black, elongate; cauda black, elongate with 25-40 setae; stridulatory apparatus on abdomen present; forewing with pterostigma light brown and media usually twice-branched.

Wingless adult female (aptera): 1.5-2.8 mm in length; oval; antennae six segmented with no secondary rhinaria; segments not banded, but segments I and II black, segments III and IV pale and slightly swollen, and segments V and VI dark at least at joints, setae on antennae III at least as long as the diameter of the segment; siphunculi black, elongate, and only slightly longer than cauda; cauda black and elongate with about 30 setae; 'knees' of all three pairs of legs very dark; stridulatory apparatus present.


Top of page T. citricida is believed to be native to Asia where citrus originated. Since the first half of the twentieth century, the aphid has been known to be widely distributed on citrus in Asia, India, New Zealand, Australia, Pacific Islands (including Hawaii), Africa south of the Sahara, Madagascar, Indian Ocean Islands and South America. This distribution is attributed to movement of infested leaves or propagation material. Areas where citrus was established by seed or aphid-free propagation material have remained uninfested (e.g. North and Central America, Caribbean Basin) until recently (Yokomi et al., 1994). Because ancestral citrus (old line) is known to contain many viruses and virus-like agents, many countries prevent entry of citrus propagation material from abroad. This, undoubtedly, has restricted the aphid's hitchhiking potential. On the other hand, there is now more intercontinental movement of people and commerce than ever before and the threat of introduction by this route remains at its highest level.

Although the aphid is tropical/subtropical in origin, the presence of a sexual stage and overwintering as eggs in Japan (Komazaki, 1982) suggests that T. citricida can adapt to different climates. Due to the restricted host range of the aphid to citrus and its relatives, the most favourable citrus environs for T. citricida occur when weather is warm and humid resulting in frequent stimulation of new growth cycles. Similarly, desert/semi-arid and cooler regions provide conditions favourable for T. citricida only seasonally. Populations typically increase rapidly following colony initiation resulting in crowding, a decline in host suitability, and production of winged (alate) aphids. Winged morph production could also be triggered by the physiology of the host. However, a key requirement for spread of T. citricida is that the alata must alight on citrus with new shoot growth to successfully establish a new colony.

A record for Iran in CABI/EPPO (1998) is an error; the species reported in the literature was T. aurantii and not T. citricida.

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
BhutanPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Brunei DarussalamPresentWaterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
CambodiaPresentBlackman and Eastop, 1984; Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ChinaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-FujianPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-GuangdongPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-GuangxiPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-GuizhouPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984; Liu et al., 2012
-HainanPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-Hong KongPresentBlackman and Eastop, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-HubeiPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-HunanPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-JiangsuPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-JiangxiPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-ShandongPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-SichuanPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-YunnanPresentTsai et al., 1988; Ke et al., 1984
-ZhejiangPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
IndiaWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-Arunachal PradeshPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-AssamPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-DelhiPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Indian PunjabPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-KarnatakaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-MaharashtraPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-ManipurPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-MeghalayaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-OdishaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-SikkimPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-West BengalPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
IndonesiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-Irian JayaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-JavaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-SulawesiPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-SumatraPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
IranAbsent, invalid recordCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
JapanWidespreadEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-HonshuPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-KyushuPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-ShikokuPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Korea, DPRPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Korea, Republic ofPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
LaosPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MalaysiaWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-SabahPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-SarawakPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentAPPPC, 1987; Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
NepalPresentKnorr and Shah, 1971; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesPresentWaterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SingaporePresentBlackman and Eastop, 1984; APPPC, 1987; Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
TaiwanWidespreadEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ThailandPresentBlackman and Eastop, 1984; APPPC, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
VietnamWidespreadEssig, 1949; Waterhouse, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014


AngolaPresentvan and Harten Ilharco, 1975; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
BeninPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
BurundiPresentSeco et al., 1992; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
CameroonPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Central African RepublicPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
CongoPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentTsai, 1999; EPPO, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentThouvenel and Fauquet, 1977; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
EthiopiaPresentAbate, 1988; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
GhanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
GuineaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
KenyaPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MalawiPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MauritiusPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentTsai, 1999
MozambiquePresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaPresentUK CAB International, 1961; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
RéunionPresentEtienne and Vilardebo, 1978; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
RwandaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Saint HelenaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SenegalPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SeychellesPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Sierra LeonePresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SomaliaPresentTsai, 1999
South AfricaWidespreadEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SudanPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SwazilandPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
TanzaniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
TogoPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
TunisiaPresentTsai, 1999
UgandaPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ZambiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ZimbabwePresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014

North America

BermudaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MexicoPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
USARestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-FloridaWidespreadHalbert, 1995; Halbert and Brown, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 1998; Tsai, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-HawaiiPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresent, few occurrences1993CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ArubaPresentEPPO, 2014
BelizePresent1996CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
British Virgin IslandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Cayman IslandsPresentHalbert, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Costa RicaRestricted distributionLastra et al., 1991; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
CubaPresent1992Yokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
DominicaPresentAubert et al., 1992; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresent1992Aubert et al., 1992; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
GrenadaPresentEPPO, 2014
GuadeloupePresent1991Aubert et al., 1992; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
GuatemalaPresentEPPO, 2014
HaitiPresentYokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
HondurasPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
JamaicaPresent1993Yokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MartiniquePresent1991Aubert et al., 1992; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Netherlands AntillesRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
NicaraguaPresentYokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
PanamaWidespreadYokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoRestricted distribution1992Yokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Saint Kitts and NevisRestricted distribution1993Yokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced1992 Invasive Yokomi et al., 1994; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; Heileman, 2007; Government of Saint Lucia, 2012; EPPO, 2014
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespread1993CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoWidespread198*Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
United States Virgin IslandsRestricted distributionAnon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
BoliviaWidespreadSmith and Cermeli, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
BrazilWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-BahiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-CearaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014; Martins et al., 2016
-GoiasPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-MaranhaoPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentEPPO, 2014
-ParaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-ParanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-PernambucoPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Santa CatarinaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ChileWidespreadEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ColombiaPresent1980Smith and Cermeli, 1979; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorRestricted distributionStoetzel, 1994a; Anon., 1995; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
French GuianaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
GuyanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ParaguayWidespreadSmith and Cermeli, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
PeruWidespreadEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SurinamePresentSmith and Cermeli, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
UruguayWidespreadStoetzel, 1994a; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
VenezuelaWidespreadSmith and Cermeli, 1979; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014


CyprusAbsent, invalid recordCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
ItalyAbsent, invalid recordCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
MaltaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014
NetherlandsAbsent, confirmed by surveyNPPO of the Netherlands, 2013; EPPO, 2014
PortugalRestricted distribution1994CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-MadeiraWidespread1994CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SpainRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014


AustraliaWidespread****Essig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-New South WalesPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-QueenslandPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-South AustraliaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-TasmaniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-VictoriaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
-Western AustraliaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentBlackman and Eastop, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
FijiPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentWong et al., 1997
New ZealandRestricted distributionEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentCABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
SamoaPresentEssig, 1949; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
Solomon IslandsPresentAPPPC, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
TongaPresentCarver et al., 1993; CABI/EPPO, 1998; EPPO, 2014
VanuatuPresentAPPPC, 1987

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page Primary hosts of T. citricida are citrus and citrus relatives (Rutaceae) (Order Geraniales, Suborder Geraniineae, mostly in the Subfamily Aurantiodeae, Tribe Citreae). Typically, Aurantioideae are trees or shrubs with evergreen leaves. Flowers are usually white and often fragrant. Many genera bear subglobose fruit with a green, yellow, or orange peel with numerous oil glands that result in a nice aroma when handled. Most commercial citrus varieties and rootstocks are good hosts of T. citricida. In addition, relatives such as calamondin (x Citrofortunella microcarpa) and orange jessamine (Murraya paniculata), rough lemon (Citrus jambhiri), sour orange (C. auranticum), box orange (Severiana buxifolia) and lime berry (Triphasia trifolia) can support T. citricida. There are reports that T. citricida has been collected on many non-citrus plants (Essig, 1949) and Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra) (Ponte et al., 1998), however, there is no verification that these are reproductive hosts capable of sustaining a population of the aphid. These reports may have resulted from misidentification of aphids. Records from potato and sweet peppers may be from plants growing near Citrus.

The aphid may be able to survive on some non-rutaceous hosts temporarily as they migrate away from a crowded food source (Yokomi et al., 1994). Athough Rutaceae are the preferred hosts, large colonies of apterae are often found on very different plants including Pyracantha (Rosaceae) in Malawi and Zimbabwe; Cudramia (Moraceae) in China and Australia; tea in the Seychelles; and Maclura (Moraceae) in Java.

Growth Stages

Top of page Seedling stage


Top of page New, tender shoots are vulnerable to T. citricida colonization and support rapid population build-up. Aphids are external feeders and extract plant sap from the host by penetrating their stylets into the phloem. Excess plant sap is excreted as honeydew which supports sooty mould growth. Heavy infestation by T. citricida is noted when growing points of citrus are covered by the dark-coloured aphid and the flush bends under the physical weight of the colony. Aphid-tending ants are often present with T. citricida, and collect honeydew. When disturbed, T. citricida populations sway rapidly in unison, making stridulatory movements with their hind legs presumably to fend off their enemies. Flowers are not a preferred host tissue, and mature leaves, stems and fruit cannot sustain T. citricida populations.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould

Biology and Ecology

Top of page T. citricida only feeds on newly developed terminals including unexpanded and young expanded leaves and flower buds of citrus and citrus relatives. New shoots generally last 10 days in summer in southern Florida, and 10-16 days in autumn and spring. Once the tissue becomes unfavourable for feeding, the colonies produce alate adults for dispersal, and the remaining nymphs either die or leave the trees searching for other branches or trees. The dispersal of nymphs from one tree to another by crawling a distance of up to 8-12 m is often observed. T. citricida is a colonizer species and is not a strong flyer; long distance disperal is mostly aided by wind current. Alate adults could, therefore, play an important role in the epidemiology of Citrus tristeza virus. However, there is no information available on the percentage of viruliferous alates in a given population during the dispersal period. In countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Taiwan and Japan, two distinct population peaks per year are observed in the spring and autumn. A 2-year field survey conducted in a citrus grove in southern Florida indicated that there were two major peaks of T. citricida populations per year. The peaks did not fall on the same months each year, they were solely dependent on the rainfall of the preceding months (Tsai, 1999). T. citricida is anholocyclic and thelytokous throughout most of its range, preferring warm climates. It can, however, tolerate colder areas such as southern Japan by developing a holocyclic stage and overwintering as eggs (Komazaki, 1993). Development time is temperature dependent. At 20°C, T. citricida has a nymphal development time of 6-8 days with an average pre-reproductive period of 8.1 days, longevity is 28.4 days. Fecundity is 58.5 offspring/female with an intrinsic rate of natural increase of 0.36, net reproductive rate of 56.2, and mean generation time of 11.2 days. Its thermal threshold is 8.4°C and it required 125 degree days for development (Komazaki, 1982). Takanashi (1989) reported slightly longer generation time under similar conditions and differentiated between alata and aptera development time. The developmental periods of immature stages of T. citricida in an insectary ranged from 63.1 days at 8°C to 5.5 days at 30°C when eight constant temperatures (8, 10, 15, 20, 25, 28, 30 and 32°C) were evaluated. The lower developmental threshold for the T. citricida immature was estimated at 6.27°C. An upper temperature threshold for the development of the nymph (31.17°C) was determined from a nonlinear biophysical model. The percentage survival of the immature stages varied from 81 to 97% within the temperature range 8-30°C but survival was reduced to 29% at 32°C. The average longevity of adult females ranged from 60 days at 10°C to 6.5 days at 32°C. The average progeny per female was 52.5 at 20°C and 7.5 at 32°C. The largest intrinsic rate of increase (rm)(0.3765) occurred at 28°C. Populations reared at 10 and 32°C had the lowest rm values of 0.0588 and 0.0960, respectively. The mean generation time of the population ranged from 51 days at 10°C to 8 days at 32°C. The optimal temperature range for population growth of T. citricida was 20-30°C (Tsai and Wang, 1999). Winged morphs develop when populations become crowded and/or food source declines in quality and disperse in search of new hosts to begin new colonies. A spring and a fall flight peak of T. citricida occur in South Africa (Schwartz, 1965), Australia (Carver, 1978) and Brazil (Nickel et al., 1984). In Japan, T. citricida populations peak three times per year but can be found on citrus in all seasons, except when overwintering (Komazaki, 1993). Because the host range of the aphid is restricted to citrus and its relatives (all relatively non-cold hardy), it is unlikely that the aphid can exist outside citrus-growing areas or climates. Host plants have an effect on the development, survival, longevity and reproduction of T. citricida. The percentages of immatures surviving at 25±1°C on rough lemon (Citrus jambhiri), sour orange (C. aurantium), grapefruit (C. paradisi), key lime (C. aurantifolia), box orange (Severinia buxifolia), calamondin (x Citrofortunella microcarpa), lime berry (Triphasia trifolia) and orange jassamine (Murraya paniculata) were 82.0, 93.5, 93.3, 88.3, 53.1, 86.5, 41.6 and 62.8%, respectively. Developmental times for the immature stages among populations were similar (5.9-6.2 days) on rough lemon, sour orange, grapefruit and key lime. Longer developmental periods (6.5-7.2 days) occurred on box orange, calamondin, lime berry and orange jassamine. The average number of nymphs reproduced per female were 58.8, 43.0, 34.1, 42.5, 32.7, 17.7, 20.8 and 23.0 on sour orange, grapefruit, key lime, rough lemon, calamondin, box orange, lime berry and orange jassamine, respectively. Female adults lived an average of 22.1, 19.5, 17.5, 18.0, 22.8, 16.3, 22.6 and 14.6 days on these hosts. The intrinsic rate of natural increase (rm) for T. citricida was highest on grapefruit. Estimates of rm varied from 0.381 on grapefruit to 0.183 on lime berry. The mean population generation time on these hosts ranged from 9.7 to 12.2 days (Tsai, 1998).

The major impact of T. citricida is due to its efficient transmission of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) (Costa and Grant, 1951; Yokomi et al., 1994), a phloem-limited closterovirus (Bar-Joseph and Lee, 1989). Two types of CTV strains are economically important: those that cause decline of citrus budded onto sour orange (Citrus aurantium) rootstock; and those that cause stem pitting of grapefruit and sweet orange regardless of rootstock. Both are readily transmissible by T. citricida.

CTV is semipersistently transmitted by citrus aphids (Raccah et al., 1976). Aphids acquire virus from an infected trees with feeding times as short as 5-10 min; transmission efficiency increases with feeding times up to 24 h. There is no latent period and the virus does not multiply or circulate in the aphid. The time required to inoculate a plant is the same as for acquisition. The aphid is capable of spreading the virus for 24-48 hours without reacquisition (Meneghini, 1948). T. citricida also transmits Citrus vein enation (woody gall) virus, a probable luteovirus (da Graça and Maharaj, 1991), Cowpea aphid-borne mosaic virus, a potyvirus affecting groundnut in Brazil (Pio-Reheiro et al., 2000) and Celosia mosaic virus, a potyvirus affecting Celosea argentea in Nigeria (Owolabi et al., 1998). Migrating populations of T. citricida are also associated with the spread of certain nonpersistently-transmitted viruses such as Chilli veinal mottle virus (Blackman and Eastop, 1984) and Soybean mosaic virus in China (Halbert et al., 1986).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aphelinus asychis Parasite
Aphelinus gossypii Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Aphidius colemani Parasite
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Chrysoperla plorabunda Predator
Cladosporium oxysporum Pathogen
Coccinella octopunctata Predator Adults/Nymphs
Coccinella transversalis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Cycloneda sanguinea Predator
Episyrphus balteatus Predator Adults/Nymphs India Citrus
Harmonia axyridis Predator
Harmonia conformis Predator
Hyperaspis senegalensis Predator
Lecanicillium lecanii Pathogen Adults/Nymphs
Lipolexis gracilis Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Lipolexis scutellaris Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Lysiphlebia japonica Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Lysiphlebus fabarum Parasite
Lysiphlebus mirzai Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Lysiphlebus testaceipes Parasite Adults/Nymphs
Mallada boninensis Predator Adults/Nymphs
Nusalala uruguaya Predator
Ocyptamus gastrostactus Predator
Pharoscymnus madagassus Predator
Pseudodoros clavatus Predator
Psyllaephagus pulvinatus Parasite

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Most of the reported natural enemies of T. citricida are predators. If predators are present in or adjacent to the citrus grove when T. citricida colonies are forming, they can be effective even when aphid levels are low. Recently in Puerto Rico, predators, especially coccinellids, were observed decimating small T. citricida colonies and eliminating or reducing and/or delaying winged aphid production (Michaud, 1996). Tao and Chiu (1971) point out that T. citricida is toxic to many predators.

The principal primary parasitoids of T. citricida are solitary endophagous Hymenoptera in the families Aphidiidae and Aphelinidae. The aphidiids are wasp-like in appearance and, at pupation, produce a mummy with a typical crusty golden, swollen appearance. They range in adult size from one to several millimetres. Adult Aphelinids are usually less than 1 mm, possess reduced wing venation and an abdomen which appears broadly attached to the thorax. They turn an aphid into a black mummy. Female adult aphelinids also feed on aphid haemolymph, a behaviour that is essential for completion of oogenesis. In Taiwan, T. citricida is parasitized by Lipolexis gracilis and L. scutellaris (Tao and Chiu, 1971), whereas in Australia it is parasitized by Aphelinus gossypii (Carver, 1978). In Japan, Lysiphlebia japonica is the principal parasitoid of T. citricida (Kato, 1970; Takanashi, 1990). In China, Lysiphlebia mirzai is a common parasitoid of T. citricida (Liu and Tsai, 2002).

Entomopathogenic fungi attack T. citricida and can decimate a population with dramatic speed. A critical requirement for efficacy of such fungi is high humidity. This is especially true when using Beauveria bassiana, Paecilomyces fumosoroseus and Metarhizium anisopliae against T. citricida (Poprawski et al., 1999). Verticillium lecanii has been reported to attack T. citricida in Venezuela (Rondón et al., 1980) and other fungi have been observed associated with the aphid in South Africa (Samways, 1984).


Top of page T. citricida is the most important of the six reported aphid species that transmit Citrus tristeza virus because of its high vector efficiency, prolific reproduction and dispersal timed with citrus flush cycles to maximize chances of acquiring and transmitting the virus. High populations of aphids during bloom periods can cause direct damage to citrus (Hall and Ford, 1933). The major damage associated with T. citricida, however, is the transmission and spread of severe strains of CTV. Such strains cause rapid decline and death of citrus trees planted on sour orange (C. aurantium) rootstock regardless of tree age. The most virulent strains of CTV cause stem pitting in twigs, branches and trunks of citrus trees regardless of rootstock. Stem pitting CTV weakens a tree and reduces fruit size, quality and quantity. This occurs over a period of 6 to 25 years, depending on the virulence and challenge level of CTV. Grapefruit cultivars are most sensitive to stem pitting but sweet orange varieties (e.g. Pera) are also susceptible; mandarins are most tolerant.

T. citricida was the vector responsible for the rapid spread of CTV decline that caused death of many tens of millions of citrus trees (sour orange) in Brazil and Argentina in the 1930s and 1940s (Knorr and DuCharme, 1951) and in the 1970s in Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru over a 10-year period (Geraud, 1976; Lee et al., 1992). Currently in South Africa, T. citricida is spreading CTV strains that are so virulent that economic longevity of grapefruit has been shortened to 6-8 years even though it contains a cross-protecting CTV isolate (Marais et al., 1996). T. citricida was found to be 6 to 25 times more efficient in transmission of various CTV isolates than was Aphis gossypii (Yokomi et al., 1994). In Florida, USA, T. citricida is capable of separating severe strain (stem pitting strain) of CTV from the source plant affected with a mild strain of CTV following single aphid transmission (Tsai et al., 2000). Currently, there are an estimated 200 million citrus trees on sour orange rootstock worldwide and all are at immediate risk of CTV decline (Garnsey et al., 1996).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Field infestations of T. citricida can best be detected by periodic visual inspection of new shoot growth of citrus. Winged forms can be monitored by yellow traps or suction traps.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page T. citricida can be confused with Toxoptera aurantii, the black citrus aphid, because of its presence on citrus, dark brown-black coloration, size and the presence of stridulatory apparatus on the abdomen. However, alata of these aphids can be readily differentiated using a hand lens. T. citricida has antennae III entirely black, forewing pterostigma light brown and media vein twice branched; T. aurantii has antennae III, IV, V, and VI banded at joints, forewing pterostigma conspicuously dark blackish-brown and media vein once-branched. Wingless adults and nymphs are more difficult to distinguish. The easiest character on apterae is the antennae. T. aurantii antennae have several banded joints; whereas T. citricida antennae have one prominent band near the middle. Setal length and patterns can be used to differentiate the aphids but require higher magnification. The cauda of T. citricida is bushy with 25-40 setae; whereas that of T. aurantii is less bushy with 8-19 setae. Another black aphid that occurs on citrus is the cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora). It can be distinguished by its strikingly white legs (knees of hind leg may be dark) and 7 caudal setae. See Stroyan (1961), Stoezel (1994a), and Halbert and Brown (1996) for full descriptions and keys of citrus aphids.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control

Management of virus inoculum is the most important control strategy (Garnsey et al., 1996) because spread of severe strains of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) is the major problem associated with T. citricida. The first factor to consider is the prevalence of CTV and its strains in a particular area. If virulent stem pitting strains and T. citricida are endemic, citrus scion varieties tolerant to CTV should be planted. These include mandarins, pummelos, tangelos and tangor. Only CTV-tolerant or resistant rootstock should be used. Avoid planting grapefruit or Pera sweet orange unless they have been pre-infected with a cross-protecting CTV strain. If CTV strains are less virulent than the previous scenario, sweet oranges and grapefruit, preferably pre-inoculated with a mild CTV isolate, can be grown with consideration for the market targeted (e.g. fresh fruit, domestic, export, juice, etc.). When CTV problems are anticipated, closer plant spacing should be considered to maximize land use during the grove's early years. Trees that decline or become stunted can either be replaced or simply removed and neighbouring trees allowed to fill in.

Close plant spacing is becoming a common practice in new groves in the USA. Tree size is managed by mechanical hedgers that trim the sides and tops of trees. This practice produces conditions excellent for CTV spread and allows tree canopies to touch in the direction of the row. Pruning induces new shoot growth in which CTV multiplication is optimal as long as temperature and moisture are favourable. Citrus aphid migration, including that of T. citricida, peak in spring and autumn (Carver, 1978; Schwartz, 1965). Hence the uniform growth that results from pruning maximizes opportunities for CTV acquisition and inoculation.

If CTV incidence is undetectable or mild and T. citricida is not established in a particular region, citrus trees grafted on sour orange rootstock may still be acceptable (Garnsey et al., 1996). This decision depends on the risk of losses due to CTV versus the advantages gained by the use of sour orange (e.g. salinity, cold hardiness, Phytophthora, high soil pH, poor drainage). Several areas have managed CTV by eradication of infected trees (for example in Israel and California). This programme is cost effective if virus incidence is low and spread is slow (Garnsey et al., 1996).

Regardless of the present CTV/aphid vector situation, a citrus budwood certification programme is essential for a good citrus industry. CTV and all other citrus virus and virus-like agents are readily graft transmissible. Diagnostic methods are available for testing and detection of citrus pathogens in budwood sources. Recent developments in serology and molecular biology allow some rapid evaluation of pathogen virulence. Thermotherapy and shoot tip grafting are now standard methods to eliminate pathogens from budwood. If a cross-protective CTV isolates are available, they can be incorporated into the budwood certification programme.

Biological Control

Although natural enemies are important in regulating aphid populations, they alone may not be satisfactory for controlling plant virus diseases. Aphid populations on citrus are often too variable to provide sufficient natural enemies for effective vector control. One concept is to direct biological control activities to reduce migrant vector populations before they spread through susceptible crops (Mackauer, 1976). Given that alternative prey are available, natural enemies could reduce T. citricida populations to mitigate secondary spread of CTV (tree to tree within a field), especially if conservation and augmentation efforts are used. In Japan, Lysiphlebia japonica is the most important parasitoid of T. citricida (Takanashi, 1990). However, this parasite was imported and released in southern Florida with no success (Deng and Tsai, 1998). In China, Lysiphlebus mirzai is a common parasitoid of T. citricida (Liu and Tsai, 2002). In South America, various natural enemies have been observed attacking T. citricida but none has been used for augmentation in a biological control programme.

Lysiphlebus testaceipes was found attacking T. citricida in Puerto Rico, Cuba and southern Florida (Yokomi and Tang, 1996; Ravelo and Triana-Fernandez, 1997; Evans and Stange, 1997) but the rate of parasitism was low, as was previously observed in Australia (Carver, 1984). Murakami et al. (1984) did not find effective parasitoids of T. citricida in the Cerrados region of Brazil and suggested that L. japonica be imported and released against T. citricida. T. citricida was introduced in south Florida in the later half of 1995 and spread to all citrus-growing areas in just 3-4 years. Assuming that biological agents colonize new areas more slowly than their hosts, multiple augmentative releases of mass-reared parasitoids at various sites should be conducted (Wellings, 1994). A classical biological control effort undertaken using this strategy in Florida with the release of L. japonica and Aphelinus spiraecolae (Tang et al., 1996) has not been successful.

As most predators are generalist feeders, presence of alternative prey provides stability to their contribution as biological control agents. The spirea aphid Aphis spiraecola is a cosmopolitan species with a wide host range and is quick to colonize new citrus shoots (Cole, 1925; Miller, 1929; Tsai and Wang, 2001). This aphid also develops large populations rapidly on citrus which attracts predators. If T. citricida arrive when these predators are present, they readily attack T. citricida. However, if predators discover a T. citricida population shortly after colonization, their probability of establishment is low without alternative prey as another food source (Michaud, 1996). Several predators including lacewings (Chrysoperla plorabunda), syrphid fly (Pseudodorus clavatus) and coccinellid beetles (Coelophora inaequalis, Coccinella septempunctata, Cycloneda sanguinea, Harmonia axyridis, Hippodamia convergens, Olla v-nigrum and Coleomegilla maculata fuscilabris) have been evaluated in the field and laboratory with varying degrees of success (Michaud, 1999, 2000, 2001; Wang and Tsai, 2001).

Host-Plant Resistance

There is limited information available on the host range of T. citricida and it is unknown if any citrus cultivars or citrus relatives are resistant to the aphid.

Chemical Control

Insecticidal control of T. citricida to slow spread of CTV is an unproven strategy. Although insecticides may not act quickly enough to prevent primary infection by viruliferous aphids, reduction of aphid populations would decrease secondary spread. Its effectiveness depends on longevity of suppression and extent of the treated area in relation to inoculum reservoir and migratory activity of the aphid (Knapp et al., 1996). It should be cautioned that use of foliar insecticides can interfere with biological control agents and, ultimately, their use to protect citrus (a perennial crop) is temporary. In the continental USA, most CTV spread occurs during spring and autumn when temperatures are mild. This is concomitant with when CTV titre (virus replication) in infected citrus trees is highest and when shoot growth and migration of T. citricida peak. Therefore, this time frame should be targeted if chemical control is attempted. Several systemic insecticides including acephate imidacloprid and acetamiprid have been used against T. citricida with various residual effects (Yamamoto et al., 2000; Tsai, 1999). A recent study showed that neem seed extract (azadirachtin) had a marked effect on the survival, longevity and fecundity of T. citricida but not its parasitoid Lysiphlebus testaceipes (Tang et al., 2002).

CTV is transmitted only by vectors that colonize citrus because it is phloem-limited. Thus, its epidemiology resembles persistently transmitted viruses more in this regard than nonpersistently transmitted viruses. As vector control has been shown to limit spread of some luteoviruses (Gourmet et al., 1994) it could be expected to have some impact on CTV spread. However, no data exist to recommend chemical control for CTV control.

Integrated Pest Management

It is not clear what level of vector control is necessary to reduce spread of CTV. The typical integrated pest management (IPM) approaches do not apply for CTV control. Economic thresholds are contingent both on T. citricida population and CTV inoculum pressure. Host-plant resistance to the aphid is not available. A unique management strategy must be practised for CTV in the presence of T. citricida. A strong regulatory component is necessary, covering both propagation and inoculum control (detection and removal of wild and possibly urban reservoirs of CTV) (Garnsey et al., 1996; Halbert and Brown, 1996). Management (conservation and/or augmentation) of biological control agents is feasible. Insecticidal control of vector populations may be useful in specific situations such as in a citrus nursery, or to protect budwood sources. Some value may result from the use of selective insecticides working in tandem with natural enemies. In the final analysis, vector management should be one component of a disease management strategy including other available elements such as mild strain cross-protection; tolerant rootstocks; regulatory measures, isolation or protection of nursery stock; and citrus scions with tolerance or resistance to CTV (Garnsey et al., 1996). In areas where T. citricida and severe (stem pitting) strain of CTV are endemic, the practice of using mild CTV strain to cross protect the subseqent infection of stem pitting strain has been carried out on a commercial basis in South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Reunion Island, India and Japan (Rocha-Pena et al., 1995; Bederski and Aubert, 1999).


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