The UK aphid monitoring network

Find out about the national network of aphid suction traps and yellow water traps. Delivering regional information on aphid species and numbers, this monitoring resource can help guide insecticide treatment decisions.
Field pest home How to recognise and manage aphids in cereals and oilseed rape Aphids and viruses in potatoes Insecticide Resistance Action Group (includes aphid sampling protocol)

The suction-trap network

The suction-trap network focuses on aphid species of importance to cereals and oilseeds crops. It is managed by Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The 12.2m tall traps suck in air continuously and are emptied daily during the ‘aphid season’. Each trap represents aphid-flight activity over a radius of around 80 km. Aphid species are then identified and counted at Rothamsted Research and SASA (Gogarbank suction trap).

Aphid counts are presented across a ‘Bulletin Week’ (which runs from Monday to Sunday).

In 2020, RIS introduced a free text messaging service to inform cereal growers about the number of aphid vectors in their area. In 2021, this service replaced the PDF/email service called Aphid News.

The yellow-water-trap network

About 100 yellow water traps are located in/close to seed potato crops across Great Britain. Traps are emptied approximately weekly by the host growers/agronomists, with full results (individual counts and weekly averages) published on a dedicated aphid monitoring website (managed by Fera).

Compared to the suction traps, the yellow water traps provide more localised (and more recent) information on which aphids are flying close to seed potato crops. Although yellow water trap results and commentary focus on aphids that transmit potato viruses (and run for a shorter period: typically, April to September), data on a wider range of aphid species, including cereal aphids, is published. Used as part of wider aphid monitoring, these results can help build up a picture of regional aphid risks.

March aphid forecasts

Suction trap aphid data and weather data can be used to forecast the start of aphid flights. Although there is considerable uncertainty associated with actual first flight dates at specific sites, the forecasts provide an indication of how early or late flights will take place, compared with an ‘average’ season. It is important to note that some aphids overwinter in crops and are likely to be present before aphid flights commence.