Giant Conifer Aphid

Subject: Christmas tree bug
Location: London uk
January 2, 2014 11:00 am
Hi Bugman
My mother in law took this photo of some bugs that hatched from a Nordman Fir Xmas tree. Lots of em, quite small – see the fir tree leaf for scale. Any ideas and should she be worried ( she let them go in the garden).
Signature: Adrian Hoole

Giant Conifer Aphids
Giant Conifer Aphids

Hi Adrian,
According to BugGuide:  “If it’s big, and on a conifer, it’s probably
Cinara. To identify further, it’s usually necessary to identify the host plant, and consider the geographic range of different species.”  Cinara is a genus with members commonly called the Giant Conifer Aphids.  It is a rare year that doesn’t arrive with someone wondering about the Giant Conifer Aphids that have been living on the tree since before Christmas and not discovered until it is time to take the dry tree out.  If there are any conifers living in the area and the weather isn’t freezing, we would not discount the possibility of Giant Conifer Aphids being spread to distant locations thanks to Christmas trees.  BugGuide also notes:  “Tends to form colonies on individual trees. They secrete honeydew, which is eaten by ants and wasps and provides the substrate for sooty mold fungus. May cause some stunting or even death on small or already-stressed hosts, but generally not a serious threat.
They are, however, a problem for Christmas tree growers: customers don’t like large, conspicuous aphids in their homes, especially since they tend to abandon the tree as it starts to dry out.”

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