Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher Starr

Social Aphids

  • Shigeyuki AokiEmail author
  • Utako Kurosu
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_107-1

Aphids, sap-sucking insects of the family Aphididae (Hemiptera), are peculiar in adopting cyclical parthenogenesis. The life cycle begins with a sexually produced aphid called a “fundatrix,” followed by a number of asexually produced generations, leading to a single generation of sexual females and males that produce fertilized eggs. These eggs give rise to new fundatrices. Some “species” have lost the sexual phase. Because their parthenogenesis is apomictic, an aphid colony founded by a single parthenogenetic aphid is a pure clone. Hence, it is conceivable that social or altruistic behavior can readily evolve by kin selection in the parthenogenetic phase of the life cycle. In fact, when coming under attack, many aphids of various groups discharge droplets containing alarm pheromone from their cornicles (aphid-specific structures on the abdomen), thus helping colony-mates to escape.

However, more elaborated social behaviors, including organized colony defense, gall cleaning, and gall...
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsRissho UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of EconomicsChuo UniversityHachiojiJapan