Onwards and upwards – aphid flight trends follow climate change

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Abstract

Two aphid species with contrasting life cycles and responses to climate change. On the right Utamphorophora humboldti, an invasive species from North America (Blackman & Eastop 2000), where it is host alternating, but in the United Kingdom is almost certainly anholocyclic (continuously parthenogenetic) on grasses. This species has shown the most dramatic advance in flight phenology and has shown the largest population increases. The maple aphid, Periphyllus testudinaceus, on the left, here pictured on horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum, is a native non-host-alternating ant-attended species (Blackman & Eastop 1994) and has a contracting flight season.

The world faces an uncertain future; climate change and the concerns about the security of food production feature prominently on political and scientific agendas world-wide. In this issue, Bell et al. (2015), drawing on the unique 50-year data set amassed by the suction trap network run by the Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS), elucidate the mechanisms advancing aphid phenology under climate change and show how by using biological traits we can make predictions about emerging crop pests. Here, I discuss their findings in the context of phenological coincidence and host plant availability.

Drawing on the unique 50-year data set amassed by the suction trap network run by the Rothamsted Insect Survey, the author discusses how we can elucidate the mechanisms advancing aphid phenology under climate change and make predictions about emerging crop pests in the context of phenological coincidence and host plant availability.

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