Amphorophora

Amphorophora Buckton

Somewhere else on this site I wrote that in some genera I rarely identify material to species.  Amphorophora is one of those genera.  I find most specimens impossible to confidently identify, and as per my philosophy, if I have no confidence in species-identification, putting a species name on a slide is at best misleading.

An Amphorophora from Rubus ursinus in western Washington.

An Amphorophora from Rubus ursinus in western Washington.

Of course one reason for my uncertainty is probably a relative lack of study of the original material, types and so forth, of some of the species.  On the other hand, my collections suggest that there are many as-yet undescribed species, and/or species names that cannot be correctly applied to any apparent species we see in the field.  Back in the 1990s I corresponded regularly with A.G. Robinson, aphidologist in Manitoba, Canada.  For a few years he worked on writing a key to North American species of Amphorophora, but in the end he gave up.  If only I still had that letter (or was it email?) he sent when he told me about giving up.  He was so direct about the challenge this genus posed.  As Blackman and Eastop put it with such delicious understatement, “The nearctic species need revision.”

Some examples of the difficult samples I get are specimens from these plants (besides the terribly difficult species on some native Rubus):

  1. Geranium species
  2. Trautvetteria caroliniensis
  3. Phacelia
  4. Saussurea americana
An Amphorophora that I cannot identify to species.  It has an abbreviated life cycle, finishing in June, on Geranium viscossisimum.

An Amphorophora that I cannot identify to species. It has an abbreviated life cycle, finishing in June, on Geranium viscosissimum.

————————————————————

Amphorophora forbesi Richards (= Aulacorthum capilanoense Robinson)

Ironically, this is the only species of Amphorophora I have both a photo of and confidence in the species name. This is ironic because it has very unusual characters for the genus, and may well not be congeneric with most other Amphorophora. It is easily found on Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry) in western North America. I have material from British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

Amphorophora forbesi from a lovely campground on the Nehalem River in Oregon, the day after Memorial Day in 2010.  We had the place to ourselves.

Amphorophora forbesi from a lovely campground on the Nehalem River in Oregon, the day after Memorial Day in 2010. We had the place to ourselves.