Deciduous trees remobilize the nitrogen in senescing leaves during the process of autumn colouration, which in many species is associated with increased concentrations of anthocyanins. Archetti1 and Hamilton and Brown2 observed that autumn colouration is stronger in tree species facing a high diversity of specialist aphids. They proposed a coevolution theory that the bright colours in autumn might provide an honest signal of defence commitment, thus deterring migrant aphids from settling on the leaves. So far, there have been very few experimental results to support the hypothesis, and tree commitment to phenolics-based defences has not shown direct protection against aphids. Predators and parasitoids have been found to be the major controllers of arboreal aphids. Indirect defences involve the emission of attractive volatile compounds that enhance the effectiveness of carnivorous enemies. The indirect defence hypothesis is presented to explain low aphid diversity on tree species that are green during autumn. The hypothesis suggests that green foliage can continue to produce herbivore-inducible plant volatiles and maintain volatile-based indirect plant defences against aphids until leaf abscission. BioEssays 30:889–896, 2008. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.