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How to Identify a Sugarcane Aphid: Aphid’s in general are typically small insects and usually about the size of a pinhead. When you look at aphids from above they are usually oval in shape.
Aphids have thin legs and antennae which are about the length of their body. All aphids have two appendages that stick out near the end of their abdomen called cornicles. Because aphids are so small many people get intimidated at trying to identify them. To assist in identification a hand lens can be invaluable. When identifying aphids focus on the large adults that do not have wings.
Often times aphids found on sorghum will blend in to a certain degree with the sorghum. To get a better contrast scooping off a few aphids and put them on your fingernail can be very helpful. When it comes to sorghum there are multiple aphid species that could be feeding on your plants. To help you remember whether you have sugarcane aphids or not the following phrase can be helpful. “ Are there sugarcane aphids in your Sorghum to track? Make sure to remember the FACT is black.” If the aphid has Feet, Antennae and Cornicle Tips that are black then you know that you have a sugarcane aphid.
Corn leaf aphids will have black feet, antennae and cornicles but they also have a black head and their feet are entirely black. So don’t forget the last part. You are only looking at the tips. They have more black areas on their body than is included in the FACT.
Yellow Sugarcane aphids don’t have black on them at all. So if you look close enough they should be easily distinguished.
Greenbug aphids have black tipped feet and antennae, but their cornicles are never black.
Now you should be able to go out into your sorghum field to identify this aphid. If you take away one thing today, I hope it’s the phrase the fact is black.
Photos taken by Jason Thomas, Texas A&M University.