Basic biology of the peach–potato aphid

The peach–potato aphid (Myzus persicae) is an important virus vector in numerous field crops. Find out about its life cycle and the key features to help you identify it.

Virus management in cereals and oilseed rape

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Which viruses do peach–potato aphids spread?

Peach–potato aphid is the most important vector of Turnip yellows virus (TuYV), Potato leafroll virus (PLRV), Potato virus A (PVA) and Potato virus Y (PVY). It also transmits Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV), Beet yellows virus (BYV), Beet chlorosis virus (BChV) and Beet mild yellowing virus (BMYV).

Virus management in cereals and oilseed rape

Aphids and potato virus transmission

Virus management in vegetable brassicas

Life cycle and identification

The wingless peach–potato aphid is medium-sized (1–2 mm long) and ranges from pale green-to-pink or almost black. The winged form is a similar size but has a black central abdominal patch on the upper surface, with a pale underside.

  1. Nov–Dec: Asexual females overwinter in brassicas, herbaceous crops and weeds. A small proportion of eggs overwinter on peach and nectarine trees. Cold weather reduces survival of mobile stages.
  2. Mar–Aug: Adults migrate to and infest various summer crops, including potato. They can multiply extremely quickly, with populations usually peaking in early to mid-July. A further, smaller peak occasionally occurs in late August/September.
  3. Sep–Dec: Adults infest oilseed rape and vegetable brassicas, transferring viruses.

Note: Approximate months shown

Note: Peach–potato aphid is resistant to several active ingredients, and options for chemical control are limited. It is essential to follow resistance management guidance and to target chemical control carefully.

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