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Go Back       IAR Journal of Agriculture Research and Life Sciences | IAR J Agri Res Life Sci, 2(5), | Volume:2 Issue:5 ( Oct. 10, 2021 ) : 22-26.
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DOI : 10.47310/iarjals.2021.v02i05.003       Download PDF       HTML       XML

Species Composition and Relative Abundance of Aphids on Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in the Agro-Ecology of Pusa, Bihar

Article History

Received: 10.09.2021 Revision: 20. 09.2021 Accepted: 30. 09.2021 Published: 10. 10. 2021

Author Details

Rani Kumari*, Vijay Kumar Thakur and Raghunath Prasad Sinha

Authors Affiliations

Department of Zoology, C. M. Science College, Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga, Bihar, 846008, India

Abstract: Cereal aphid species are becoming one of the significant pests of wheat under the vagaries of agro-climatic conditions of Bihar in the regime of global warming. No scientific study seems to exist on species complex of aphids affecting the wheat crop in the region. Present investigation aimed to resolve the prevailing species complex of the crop. The observations were recorded on eleven diverse wheat genotypes planted in randomized block design during 2012-13 and 2013-14 under unprotected field condition. Aphid population was found maximum during 1st to 2nd weeks of March when the crops were mostly between 58 to 69 Zadoks growth stages. The level of infestation varied from 5% to 100%. In most of the plants the aphids were mainly concentrating on the earhead. Among the wheat genotypes used for the investigation the ear heads were mainly infested by the mixed population of grain aphids i.e. Sitobion avenae (Fabricius) and S. miscanthi, dominated by S. avenae. The aphid intensity varied from less than 10 per tiller to more than 50 per tiller. Other two species which were present in relatively low proportion were Rhopalosiphum maidis and R. padi. R. maidis observed mainly on flag and few lower leaves whereas the R. padi was observed on leaves and ear heads often with few numbers. Aphid complex comprising of these four species was found in all the years of investigation with fluctuation in their relative proportions in which grain aphids were found most predominant.

Keywords: wheat; cereal aphid; species composition; relative abundance; agro-ecology.


Aphids are soft bodied and small plant sucking insects with almost all generations comprising parthenogenetic females. They are commonly known as plant lice or green flies belong to the super family Aphidoidea. They suck sap from stem and foliage which gets stunted with yellow, reddish or purple spots on it. Some species can cause chlorosis and tissue death (Tyler et al., 1987). Infestation normally started at beginning of the ear-formation and reached its peak at milky stage.Aphids are serious pests worldwide, able to cause severe damage in cereal crops, particularly wheat, by direct feeding and by transmitting plant pathogenic viruses such as barley yellow dwarf virus (Mann et al., 1996; Thackray et al., 2009).

In India wheat is a premier winter cereal crop. Although, wheat is grown primarily as a food crop, it is also used as inputs for many industrial products as well as feedstock. However, productivity of the crop is heavily affected by several insect pests. Wheat crop is attacked by more than a dozen of insect pests from sowing till harvesting (Bindra, 1968). Among the major insect pests of wheat in India, aphids have gained status of regular pests and reported from all major wheat growing regions (Singh, 1986; 1988). Wheat is attacked by more than eleven aphid species, out of them four species namely Sitobion avenae (Fabricius), S. miscanthi and Rhopaosiphum padi and R maidis are reported to be most predominant (Jarosik et al., 2003) and their composite population is designated as wheat aphid complex (Aslam et al., 2004). Wheat crop is infested by aphid from seedling stage onwards, but they are not easily detected due to their small size and green color (Aheer et al., 2008). Long lasting infestation can reduce tillering (Anonymous 1995-2013), number of spikelets and seed (Pike and Schaffner 1985). Its damage in the boot stage can result in 19-31% yield loss; later infestation can cause the yield loss upto 20% (Voss et al.,1997). During the grain fill period infestation may result in low grain protein content (Anonymous 1995-2013). Aphid’s number 5, 15, 30 and 50 per earhead can cause 13.3, 27.8, 38.1 and 47.7% reduction in grain weight, respectively (Deol et al., 1987).With climate change, aphid pests are gaining importance because many aphids are able to feed through the winter on cereal crops without recourse to sexual reproduction.

Pest status, species composition and seasonal dynamics of cereal aphid species are influenced by a complex of factors (region, climate, biotype status, seasons, life cycles, agro technical practices, natural enemies) (Vickerman & Wratten, 1979; Dean et al., 1981; Plantegenest et al., 1996; Brewer & Elliott, 2004). Although, there are many publications on the diversity of aphid species infesting wheat there are no systematic studies for the State of Bihar.In this paper we record the diversity of cereal aphids attacking wheat genotypes and their natural enemies.


The present investigation was conducted at the experimental area of the PUSA farm having a history of more than 100 years of organised farming.The farm is located in the Indo-Gangetic plains of North Bihar representing subtropical zone with hot, humid summer(27±1°C) and cool, dry winter.The weather conditions almost remain same during both the years of experiment. The experimental site is geographically situated at a North latitude of 25.9840, East longitude of 85.6740 and altitude of 52.20 m above mean sea level.The farm is surrounded from its three sides by the river Budhi-Gandak with good vegetation around. Rice-wheat cropping system is predominantly followed at the farm. This specific area was chosen after sampling in previous years which had indicated that it was usually heavily infested with cereal aphids. The experiments were conducted in the field where no insecticide had been applied in the preceding crop to control the aphid pest and no insecticide was applied for the control of any pest during the experiment.For the study eleven genotypes of wheat were planted under Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with three replications. Each genotype was grown in a 5rows of 3 m length. The rows were planted with a spacing of 23 cm.For maintaining around 10 cm distance between plants to plants, the seeds were sown at the rate of 100 seeds per meter. The plot-to-plot spacing was kept at 0.75 m to reduce insect movement between the plots.The crop was sown during last week of November in 2012-13 and 2013-14.All the recommended cultural and agronomical practices were followed uniformly to raise a good crop.Each plot was assess for natural infestation by the aphid pest and its natural enemies.The observations carried out when crops were mostly between 58 to 69 Zadoks growth stages during the peak period of the insect’s activity. To determine the abundance,density for aphids was recorded from five randomly selected tillers per plot using fuzzy recognition technique by 6 regular investigators divided into 3 groups. Different types/species were recognised through unaided eye or handheld simple microscope.The mean number of aphids per stem and the percentage of each type (of the total number of respective insect) were calculated. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze the data of aphids population after square root transformation.


During the year 2013 and 2014 a total of 3128 aphids were counted on diverse genotypes of wheat, of which 46.96% were S. avenae, 45.84% S. miscanthi,5.05% Rhopalosiphum padi and 2.14% R. maidis. (Fig.1). In this study, the dominance of S. avenae innatural aphid populations is inagreement with previous reports (Cai et al., 2004; Ma et al., 2006; Tomanovic et al., 2008; Zhao et al., 2009; Zhou et al., 2011; Li et al., 2013). Similarly Thies et al., 2005 and Schmidt et al., 2003 also reported high S. avenae and low R. padi abundance on wheat crop, and Khan and Maqbool. 2002 mentioned S. miscanthias major aphid pest of wheat. The composition of the species, however, differed between years, with S. miscanthi being the most common aphid in 2013 (48.84%) and declining in 2014 (43.82%), while S. avenae was most common species in 2014 (49.49%) (Fig.1).

Figure Image is Available in PDF Format

Fig.1.Abundance of Aphid Species during the Years of Study

Tomanovic et al., 2008 also reported that species composition of aphids differed between years under investigation. The relative abundance of the cereal aphids on eleven diverse genotypes of wheat was also investigated.The overall aphid density was higher during 2014, with 14.16±15.34 aphids per tiller, while in 2013 the density was found lower, with 9.54±11.75 aphids per tiller. Aphid infestations were well above the threshold level of economic damage (five per shoot; Giller et al. 1995; 3–5 per shoot; Pflanzenschut-zamt Hannover 2002). S. miscanthi peaked in abundance during 2013, with 18.64 ± 11.66 aphids per tiller followed by S. avenae, with 16.48 ±11.40 aphids per tiller, while during 2014 S. avenae had the highest density (28.03±12.07 aphids per tiller) followed by S. miscanthi (24.82±11.70 aphids per tiller). There were less abundance of R. padi and R. maidis during both cropping seasons (Fig.2).

Figure Image is Available in PDF Format

Fig. 2.Fluctuation of Aphid Species Density during Years of Study

Previous workers reported different level of aphid infestation, Schmidt et al., 2003 and Iqbal et al, 2005 found infestation well below the threshold level of economic damage, whereas, Thies et al., 2005 and Riazuddin et al., 2004 recorded aphid density exceeding the threshold level of economic damage. Similar to present work Khan et al., 2012 also observed very high aphid density per tiller.Presence of relatively high aphid density in present investigation may be due to existence of structurally complex landscapes and cropping system at the experimental site as high availability of perennial habitats provides shelter from disturbances by agricultural practices, overwintering sites, and alternative host throughout the year.

In 2013 the maximum aphid density was observed on genotype VL914, with 15.33±15.20 aphids per tiller. All the four species of aphids were present on the genotype of which S. avenae was the most predominant followed by S. miscanthi. The other two species were less abundant. The minimum aphid density was recorded on genotype DBW16, with 3.08± aphids per tiller. Only two out of four species were present on the genotype of which S. miscanthi was most common followed by S. avenae (Fig.3).

Figure Image is Available in PDF Format

Fig. 3.Differences in Mean Abundance of Aphid Species on the Genotypes During 2013

During 2014 the maximum number of aphids was found on genotype Kauz/AA/Kauz, with 21.75± aphids per tiller. Only S. avenae and S. miscanthi were recorded on the genotype of which former was most predominant. The minimum number of aphids was present on genotype Cu/79/Purulla (8.67±aphids per tiller). Only S. avenae and S. miscanthi were observed on the genotype of which former peaked in abundance (Fig.4).

Figure Image is Available in PDF Format

Fig. 4.Differences in Mean Abundance of Aphid Species on Genotypes During 2014

The results regarding population of aphids per tiller on various genotypes of wheat reveal highly significant difference among genotypes. Similar findings were also observed by Aheer et al., 1993d; Havlickova, 1993, Zia et al., 1999, Anonymous, 1999-2000, Singh et al., 2001, Iqbal et al., 2008. The aphid density also differs between both the years of investigation. Thies et al., 2005 also found significant difference for aphid density between years.


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