This aphid is a pear-shaped olive-green (either light or dark to almost black) with a red-orange spots on the abdomen. The tips of antennae, legs, and cornicles are black. Recent study suggests that this aphid is economically important because it appears to transmit Barley Yellow Dwarf virus to winter wheat. These aphids may be seen feeding on plants in fall, if the virus is transmitted during the seedling stage, damage to plants will be more severe in spring.
Heavy infestations of bird-cherry-oat-aphid during the spring can cause distortion of the flag-leaf, which rolls and twists into a cork-screw shape. These plants are often sticky, covered in an excrement from the aphids called 'honeydew'.