[Taxacom] Mystery insect

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sun Nov 4 15:26:56 CST 2012

Tony has an eye for insects second to none so I would place I high level of
confidence in his discernment.

John Grehan

On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 2:23 PM, John Steel <john.steel at botany.otago.ac.nz>wrote:

> I ran this past a colleague, Tony Harris of the Otago Museum, and this was
> his response.
> "This is a male scale insect, in the superfamily Coccoidea (Insecta;
> Hemiptera; Sternorrhyncha).  The two purple tails are caudal filaments of
> extruded wax, probably reflecting an unusual colour due to the flash (?).
>  If so, the association with the Pterostylis orchid is coincidental.
> It could be a male in the family Coccidae, such as Aphenochiton
> inconspicuous, which looks structurally very similar. However, the size may
> rule that out, because all New Zealand male coccids are small, 1.0 - 2.3 mm
> long.
> The white markings on the abdomen will be from extruded wax; note that
> they appear at the boundaries of abdominal sclerites (segmental plates of
> chitin, sternites and pleurites).
> The underlying deep red colour of the head and thorax is visible.
> The antennae look very conspicuous.  If the antennae are non-hairy, the
> insect will possibly be in the family Coccidae.  If the antennae have long
> bristles projecting at right angles, the insect may be in the family
> Margorodidae (O. Hemiptera; superfamily Coccoidea), eg, as is Icerya
> purchasi.
> Margorodids are relatively large.
> Definitely - Insecta, Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Coccoidea;
> Possibly Coccidae (first guess), Margorodidae (second guess), Eriococcidae
> (third  guess).
> Male coccids do not feed and are very short-lived and are unlikely to be
> involved in pollination of the orchid.
> All the best,
> Tony"
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