Natalie Hernandez

Unido: 15.mar.2018 Última actividad: 07.feb.2023 iNaturalist

I have a B.S. and M.Sc. in Entomology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison (USA) and my graduate research focused on alate aphids collected with pan traps in potato fields around the state. I got a job as an area identifier in Entomology with USDA-APHIS-PPQ right out of grad school and have continued to expand aphids as my specialty. I spent my first three years in South San Francisco, CA then transferred to El Paso, TX for the cheaper cost of living.

Most of my aphid experience is with winged morphs, and I usually have them under a dissecting scope or slide mounted, so I'm still learning how to ID wingless morphs and live aphids from images.

With aphids, please always note the hostplant if you know it! Most aphids are host specific, so knowing hostplant can often help with ID. There are some common species that are polyphagous though, they'll colonize almost anything.

I get a lot of questions about what people should photograph to get an ID on an aphid. It's not always the same thing for every aphid, and in general aphids are tough to ID. They're also tough to photograph because they're so tiny. Some species are distinct enough to ID from photos, some are impossible. They often need to be slide mounted, and even then there are times where they cannot be IDed. Descriptions and keys are also usually based on slide mounted wingless females so appearance in life can be unknown. I really wish we had more images of live aphids on hosts that are then collected and slide mounted to confirm species, but that would be a massive undertaking and not many Entomologists work with aphids.

I usually tell people the more pictures the better, and if it's a whole colony take pictures of several different looking specimens from different angles. Some morphs are easier to ID than others, and nymphs often cannot be IDed on their own because they haven't yet developed the characters used to ID adults, so definitely photograph the biggest ones you see.

In general, I look at the length and shape of mouthparts, the length of antennae and sense organs on the antennae, the last antennal segment and the length of the skinny part in relation to the base which is thicker, the length and shape of the cauda (the tail), the length and shape of the siphunculi (the pair of tail pipes, which may be absent), presence or absence of dorsal markings, presence or absence of wing markings, presence or absence and location of tubercles (bumps / protrusions)… tiny tiny things.

Here are some examples of slide mounted specimens with basic views used for ID. The morphology tab also has great explanations of all the different parts we might have to look at, and their names.

http://aphid.aphidnet.org/species_list.php

More about me:

As an undergrad, taxonomy was my favorite subject. I got to work closely with Dr. Daniel Young to help hone my identifying skills, and also worked as a student hourly in the Medical Entomology lab with Dr. Susan Paskewitz.

After undergrad, I worked for UC Davis County extension in Bakersfield for two years. I was a lab assistant, went out and did all the grunt work for my bosses, arranged the collection, IDed things, collected samples from the field, and whatever else they needed done. I got to be outside in the Cali sun almost everyday :)

I returned to the University of Wisconsin to work on my M.Sc. with Dr. Russ Groves, the vegetable entomologist. My thesis was focused on Aphids spreading Potato Virus Y. I set up traps in Wisconsin potatoes and collected specimens all summer. Then I spent the winter keying out the alate aphids I collected and tried to figure out if there is a particular species that spreads the virus at a certain time of year or if it just depends on aphid numbers in general. I didn't really get much virus data, but definitely learned a lot about aphids and their flight patterns in Wisconsin. I also got some experience as a T.A. in Introductory Biology and Introduction to Entomology.

I have taken classes in general entomology, taxonomy of immatures and matures, advanced taxonomy of coleoptera, and advanced taxonomy of diptera. I've actually taken almost every class taught by the entomology department at the UW including insect pest management, biocontrol, behavior, ecology, physiology, and medical/veterinary Entomology.

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