Abstract 1. Dispersal flight, a well-known strategy for aphids to locate suitable plants, was studied for its possible role in disseminating fungal pathogens and parasitoids as natural control agents of aphids by air captures in Hangzhou, China during 2001–2005. Up to 3183 migratory alates of green peach aphid Myzus persicae were captured from air using a yellow-plus-plant trap on the top platform of a six-storey building in an urbanised area, and individually reared in a laboratory for ≥ 7 days.
2. Among the captured alates, 28.9% survived on average for 2.5 days and then died from mycoses attributed to 10 species of obligate or non-obligate aphid pathogens. These were predominated by Pandora neoaphidis, which was causative of 80% of the mycosed alates. Another 4.4% survived for an average of 3.7 days, followed by mummification of Aphidius gifuensis (52.9%) and Diaeretella rapae (47.1%).
3. Numerous progeny colonies individually initiated by infected, parasitised, or healthy alates were monitored daily for 12 days, and fitted well to a logistic equation depicting the potential of their post-flight colonisation and fecundity. Both infected and parasitised alates from air were highly capable of initiating progeny colonies independently, although their potential fecundity was greatly reduced compared with that of healthy counterparts.
4. Our results confirmed that both obligate and non-obligate pathogens can be widespread with aphid dispersal flight, and demonstrated that parasitoids also took advantage of the host flight for their dispersal. This study provides new insights into aphid dispersal biology.