Introduction

AphidTrek is about aphids (and a little about psyllids), travel, and outdoor adventure. Join us to learn about aphids and to see some cool places. I write most of the text here with an intended audience of other avid naturalists, entomologists, botanists, etc. as opposed to the general public. So, I apologize for the lack of a friendly introduction of aphids and their general characteristics.  There are plenty of other sites that present that kind of information, but I am happy to help you find good resources if need be.

Photo credit: All the photos on this site are ours, and most are available for your use with permission and attribution.  The full-size version of many of the photos can be accessed simply by clicking on them. If you use any photos for publications or websites, please credit Andrew Jensen and this website.

A collecting site (and camp) from June of 2017.

Most of the information here is about our weekends and vacations — about our hobbies.  But sometimes aphid field biology is practical. See our ‘Research & Services’ page for ways that we might be able to assist you in agricultural pest management, entomology research, and more.

I (Andy Jensen) have been avidly collecting aphids most growing seasons since 1988. My aphid collection is almost 12,000 slides, with probably at least 30,000 specimens (being entirely funded by my personal bank account, I conserve money and time by mounting 3 or 4 specimens on each slide) of about 612 identified species.  Click here if you are interested in my list of peer-reviewed papers.

An old sign in our local forest, from before the Fremont and Winema National Forests were combined. We spend hundreds of hours a year in our National Forests. Hopefully they remain public for centuries to come.

I love the old-fashioned natural history of studying animals and plants in their natural habitats by simply going out in the field and looking at what they do, what they eat, and where they live. Because my Ph.D. was in aphid research, it is aphids that I happen to collect along the way. Working on a group of plant-feeding insects means I know a lot of botany too, and much of my field work is simple ‘botanizing.’ I enjoy learning, and the area of learning I’ve chosen to devote myself to is the natural world of plants and insects.  See a special statement about information I share on Aphidtrek: Borrow or Publish.

Further, here is what I wrote in a published paper in 2017 about why I focus on species descriptions and natural history: “The two species described here bring the total to seventeen new Macrosiphum species I have participated in describing from North America since 2000.  Most of these have been collected in a wide range of places and observed in the field for years prior to being described.  Not only have these seventeen new species been documented, but most years I still discover what appears to be another new species of Macrosiphum, setting me on a new multi-year quest for adequate information on it to justify a description such as those presented here.  The aim with thorough biology and distribution work with each new species has been to inform future work on the evolution and biogeography of Macrosiphum and related genera.

Collecting in the Warner Mountains of the Fremont-Winema National Forest, June 2018.

If a thorough revision of Macrosiphum and analysis of its phylogenetics and biogeography had been attempted prior to 2000, the analysis would have lacked far too much information about the actual diversity of the group to reach viable conclusions.  Based on my field work in western U.S.A. and Canada, small samples I have seen from Mexico, and the need for exploration of aphidology in northeastern Asia, much more natural history observation, collecting, and new species description are required to adequately populate any analysis of the genus Macrosiphum as a whole.  In the coming decade or more, I hope to generate much more work like is presented in this paper, and I encourage others to do the same with their taxa of interest, thereby building toward comprehensive studies of biogeography and evolution of aphids.” This sentiment applies to many genera of aphids, not just Macrosiphum.

 

South Mountain in Idaho. An undescribed species of Macrosiphum was found just down the hill from here.

South Mountain in Idaho. An undescribed species of Macrosiphum was found just down the hill from here.