An improved technique was developed to assay the toxicity of insecticides against aphids using an artificial diet. The susceptibility of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) (Hemiptera: Aphidoidea) was determined for a selection of novel biorational insecticides, each representing a novel mode of action. Flonicamid, a novel systemic insecticide with selective activity as feeding blocker against sucking insects, showed high toxicity against first-instar A. pisum nymphs with an LC50 of 20.4 mu g/ml after 24 h, and of 0.24 mu g/ml after 72 h. The toxicity was compared with another feeding blocker, pymetrozine, and the neonicotinoid, imidacloprid. In addition, four insect growth regulators were tested. The chitin synthesis inhibitor flufenoxuron, the juvenile hormone analogue pyriproxyfen, and the azadirachtin compound Neem Azal-T/S showed strong effects and reduced the aphid population by 50% after 3 days of treatment at a concentration of 7-9 mu g/ml. The ecdysone agonist tested, halofenozide, was less potent. In conclusion, the improved aphid feeding apparatus can be useful as a miniature screening device for insecticides against different aphid pests. The present study demonstrated rapid and strong toxicity of flonicamid, and other biorational insecticides towards A. pisum.