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Garden Pests: Lupin Aphid, Macrosiphum albifrons

lupin aphid (1)

pictured above: The Lupin aphid or, the Macrosiphum albifrons. 

When I was about 5 or 6, one of the first things I thought myself to do was to get Geraniums to produce roots by simply placing them in a saucer of water. My pocket money, far better spent on compost (and football stickers) once I’d figured that technique out and moved onto propagating Cacti, that in mind, could never afford me the luxury of purchasing rooting powder. Back to the geraniums, their biggest pest was the Aphid; better known to you may be as whitefly or, Trialeurodes vaporariorum to be exact. 

The two are not to be confused.  This, the Lupin aphid or Macrosiphum albifrons; to horticulturally differentiate is specific only to the Lupinus or Lupin plant and is about twice the size (4mm or so) of the former. And what is amazing about this native of North America is that it was only discovered on the British Isles circa 1980.

lupin aphid (2)

How they operate is similar-ish, in that they suck the sap or chlorophyll – the green pigment in plants that allows them to make their own food, a process better known as photosynthesis – from the plant.

To my eyes of the Lupin, one of the first things one will see is the plant wilting – a symptom somewhat similar to spotting Vine Weevil. Here however it’s not until closer inspection that it is the possible sighting of the insect itself.

Controls of the Macrosiphum albifrons are pretty much spray/ chemical warfare – or – by biological control, removal by hand.

To that and of days of old, the remedy was usually washing liquid, sudsy water and a sponging down the foliage. To be honest at the level of infestation that this plants was at – that, really didn’t make sense. For me, here and for the end result of the garden that was not mine, I felt it far better logically and horticulturally to put them out of their misery – always a tough call I should add – and change the plant to a different family entirely, one which the insect would not choose to live on.

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