Name: Metopolophium Festucae Cerealium

Alias: The cereal grass aphid has been in the United States for several decades, but it mostly stayed in place in remote areas of Oregon. Unfortunately, it is now showing signs of spreading east, the most recent scouting shows that it is now present in very small numbers in Southern Idaho, so growers here should be on the lookout. Winged adults are distinct from other aphids because of their hourglass shape and darker coloring. Wingless adults (apterae) are very similar to other aphids. They tend to be a little fatter or rounder, and their tailpipes (cornicles) are much less obvious than the green or blue pea aphids.

Crimes: Cereal grass aphids have developed a strong appetite for all cereal crops. They can wreak havoc on wheat, barley and oat crops when populations reach significant levels. As they feed on grass crops, they leave yellow stripes throughout the leaf that eventually turn brown and die. More research must be done, but early research has indicated that they can cause more damage than other common aphid species.

Redeeming qualities: None known.

Sentence: Currently their populations are not high enough to merit controls in south east Idaho. However, everyone should help monitor for these little pests to ensure that their populations stay at bay. If you suspect that you have cereal grass aphids, take some samples into an entomologist or your local University of Idaho Extension office for verification. Do not plant grain crops near suspected susceptible fields or grass patches that may be infected.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-745-6685 or email jsagers@uidaho.edu.

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