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The black bean has specialised piercing and sucking mouthparts, which are used to suck plant juices. It is a tiny insect about two millimetres long with a small head and bulbous abdomen. Certain ants love these aphids and herd them to obtain honeydew, a sweet substance that is excreted by aphids through their anus and contains surplus sugar from the aphid's diet. Ants protect aphid eggs during the winter, and carry the newly hatched aphids to new host plants, where the aphids feed on the leaves and the ants get a supply of honeydew.
The black bean aphid is found on sugar beet, beans, potatoes, sunflower and tomato. It colonises more than two hundred species of cultivated and wild plants. Among the latter it prefers Papaver somniferum, Arctium tomentonum, Chenopodium album, Atriplex rosea, Matricaria recutita and Cirsium arvense.