Movement of apterous Sitobion avenae (Homoptera: Aphididae) in response to leaf disturbances caused by wind and rain



The effect of wind and rain on initiation of dispersal and subsequent distances moved by apterous Sitobion avenae was quantified in five laboratory experiments. Wind duration and type (steady and gusting), rain duration and intensity, and a combination of wind and rain were investigated. With increased duration of wind there was an increase in the average distance aphids moved. There was less movement when aphids were exposed to gentle gusting, than to steady wind or strong gusting. With increased duration of rain there was an increase in the proportion of aphids lost from plants. Under heavy rain, the proportion of aphids off the release plant, the distance moved by them and the proportion of aphids lost, was greater than for drizzle or light rain. When wind and rain were compared, rain had the greater impact on aphid dispersal. It was concluded that leaf disturbances caused by strong gusts of wind or large rain droplets are of considerable importance in the initiation of aphid dispersal, but that wetness alone is not.