Explanation of Names
Aphis nerii Kaltenbach 1843
nerii (L). "of Nerium" (Nerium = oleander)
Yellow-orange with black cornicles, legs and antennae. Alates have pigmented thorax. Common on milkweed, oleander.
1. Adult. 2. Winged form. 3 Adults and immatures. 4. Heavy infestation. 5 and 6. Parasitized "mummies"
e. NA to sw US; native to the Mediterranean, now cosmopolitan. Introduced along with its host plant, Nerium oleander (oleander).
mostly: Jun-Oct, longer in CA, TX, FL (BG data)
Feed on the sap of plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, including milkweeds (formerly in their own family, the Asclepiadaceae). Best-known hosts: Oleander, Milkweed, and Vinca. Altogether it is known to feed on 16 plant families, such as Crassulaceae, Solanaceae, Asteraceae, Convolvulaceae, and Euphorbiaceae.
NA populations are parthenogenetic (reproduce without males)
Like the Monarch and related butterflies, these aphids pick up deadly cardiac glycosides from the host plant and deposit them in their bodies. The noxious chemicals also become part of their cornicle secretions (exuded from the tubes on the rear end). Their bright orange color serves as a warning to predators- at best they taste awful, at worst they can kill.
Larvae of lacewings and lady beetles that feed on Aphis nerii may have developmental problems during pupation, and either emerge with deformities (especially of the wings), or fail to emerge at all.
They are also attacked by syrphid flies and parasitic wasps.
They have been implicated in the transmission of at least 4 plant viruses.