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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
We describe the life cycle and general biology of the tropical cerataphidine aphid Cerataphis fransseni. We demonstrate that this aphid migrates between trees of Styrax benzoin and various species of palms; palm-feeding populations have previously been known as C. variabilis and C. palmae, which now become synonyms of C. fransseni. On S. benzoin the fundatrix induces a relatively simple gall which can contain >6000 aphids at maturity with a large number of reproductively sterile soldiers that protect the gall from predators. These galls are apparently produced throughout the year. Colonies on the secondary host plants, palms, are apparently obligately tended by ants whereas colonies within galls on Styrax are never tended by ants. We discuss the life cycle of this tropical aphid with respect to hypotheses for the evolution and maintenance of host alternation.