Aphrophora alni (Fallén, 1805)

European alder spittlebug

Basionym: Cercopis alni Fallén, 1805
Published in: Fallén, C F. 1805. Forsök till Svenska Cicad-Arter

The Alder Spittlebug (Aphrophora alni) is the most common and widespread of the Aphrophora species and can be found across Britain and Ireland. 

Description & Identification

Adults are typically 9 - 10mm long; females are somewhat larger than males.

As with all froghoppers, they have two stout spines on the outer edge of the hind tibiae, as well as several smaller spines at the tip. Nymphs are typically dark brown with a lighter-coloured abdomen. The Aphrophora genus can be recognised by their large size in comparison to other froghopper species, and the pale ridge (‘keel’) running down the midline of the head and pronotum. (Harkin & Stewart, 2019)

The four species that occur in Britain can be distinguished by their markings. The background colour of A. alni is pale to mid-brown with two distinct white patches along the margin of the wings. It can be confused with similarly-coloured variants of Philaenus spumarius, but P. spumarius is noticeably smaller and does not have the raised keel on the head. The upper surfaces of Aphrophora species are covered with tiny black pits and are shiny, contrasting with the matt surface found in Philaenus produced by a covering of minute fine white hairs. (Harkin & Stewart, 2019)


Biology & Ecology

Aphrophora alni is found across Britain and Ireland on a wide range of trees and bushes, particularly favouring alder (Alnus glutinosa) and willow (Salix) species. 

Females lay eggs singly or in groups in the autumn. On emergence the following spring, nymphs begin producing the characteristic spittle ‘nests’ which provide protection against predators and desiccation. Spittle can be seen from April to early June. The nymph moults five times within the spittle before emerging as a free-living adult. Adults can be found between late June and October.


Classification

Hemiptera
Auchenorrhyncha
Aphrophoridae
-
-
Aphrophora
alni
(Fallén, 1805)

Synonymy

Cercopis alni Fallén, 1805

Common Names (full list)

Alder spittlebug
Source: NCBI Taxonomy
Alspottstrit
Source: Dyntaxa. Svensk taxonomisk databas
Elleskumcikade
Source: National checklist of all species occurring in Denmark
Erlen-schaumzikade
Source: Catalogue of Life Checklist
Erlenschaumzikade
Source: Taxon list of Auchenorrhyncha from Germany compiled in the context of the GBOL project
Erlenschaumzikade
Source: Taxon list of animals with German names (worldwide) compiled at the SMNS
European alder spittlebug
Source: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)
Stor skumcikade
Source: National checklist of all species occurring in Denmark
Sälgspottstrit
Source: Dyntaxa. Svensk taxonomisk databas

Additional Images

Images provided by GBIF data providers. We cannot verify that identifications are correct.


Worldwide Distribution

Asia
Europe
Middle East
North America

Distribution point data provided by GBIF.

UK Status: Present

The Alder Spittlebug (Aphrophora alni) is the most common and widespread of the Aphrophora species and can be found across Britain and Ireland. 

Vector Status

As with all froghoppers, A. alni feeds on the liquid contents of the xylem vessels of its host plant. As such, it is a potential vector of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa which has caused the death of many olive trees in southern Europe, although this disease has not been detected in the UK. (Harkin & Stewart, 2019)

Plant Diseases

Phytoplasma

Trivellone, V., 2019.

Hemiptera-Phytoplasma-Plant dataset (v1.2) [Data set]

Mitrovic, M., Jovic, J., Cvrkovic, T., Krstic, O., Trkulja, N., Tosevski, I. 2012. .

Characterisation of a 16SrII phytoplasma strain associated with bushy stunt of hawkweed oxtongue (Picris hieracioides) in south-eastern Serbia and the role of the leafhopper Neoaliturus fenestratus (Deltocephalinae) as a natural vector. European Journal of Palnt Pathology, 134(3): 647-660

Carraro, L., Ferrini, F., Ermacora, P., Loi, N., Martini, M., Osler, R. 2004. .

Macropsis mendax as a vector of elm yellows phytoplasma of Ulmus species. Plant Pathology, 53: 90-95

Phytoplasmas

Mitrovic, M., Jovic, J., Cvrkovic, T., Krstic, O., Trkulja, N., Tosevski, I. 2012. Characterisation of a 16SrII phytoplasma strain associated with bushy stunt of hawkweed oxtongue (Picris hieracioides) in south-eastern Serbia and the role of the leafhopper Neoaliturus fenestratus (Deltocephalinae) as a natural vector. European Journal of Palnt Pathology, 134(3): 647-660

Carraro, L., Ferrini, F., Ermacora, P., Loi, N., Martini, M., Osler, R. 2004. Macropsis mendax as a vector of elm yellows phytoplasma of Ulmus species. Plant Pathology, 53: 90-95

* Citations of Phytoplasma occurrance in Aphrophora alni (Fallén, 1805) have been exctracted from the database of Hemiptera-Phytoplasma-Plant (HPP) biological interactions worldwide (Valeria Trivellone. (2019). Hemiptera-Phytoplasma-Plant dataset (v1.2) [Data set]. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2532738).


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