ID Challenge #17

61 thoughts on “ID Challenge #17

    • Correct ID, although lack of italics or names for order and family means you only get half credit (sorry – them’s always been the rules). You do, however, earn 9 early-bird bonus pts.

      Total = 13 pts

      • Oops, I’m sorry, it’s my first challenge. (I’m a fan from Facebook.) I didn’t see anything under the posted “standard rules” link that mentioned italics, however, and I’m not sure that I’d know how to force italics! Thank you for the points!

        • Welcome, and I hope this is only the first of many challenges that you take part in.

          No italics is a common first-timer mistake. I don’t explicitly mention use of italics in the rules, but I do specify “correctly naming the order, family, genus, and species.” As we all learned in school, scientific binomens are properly italicized.

          Also, using italics is easy – type “<i>” (without the quotes) in front of the word and “</i>” at the end, and viola – italics!

  1. Hemiptera, Monophlebidae, Icerya purchasi. White wax of this scale insect encapsulates eggs. Also, hermaphrodite, no?

  2. I’m not familiar with these guys, so some (possibly wild) guesses to follow.

    Order: Hemiptera (but I still think Homoptera — grumble, grumble)
    Family: Monophlebidae
    Genus: Icerya
    Species: Icerya purchasi Maskell, 1878
    Common name: cottony cushion scale, a pest of citrus
    Structures: female covered by waxy secretions

    • First person with maximum possible ID pts (8), plus 7 early-bird bonus pts. I can only give 1 pt for the structure, as it is the female with egg case and not just the female.

      Total = 16 pts

  3. This looks like one of the giant scale insects (Order–Hemiptera, Family–Monophlebidae), probably a cottony cushion scale, Icerya purchasi. The body is visible under the waxy secretions, as is the egg sac (the long fluted structure sticking out from the insect). These scale insects are hermaphrodites, a rare trait in insects. Because a single scale can reproduce on its own, an infestation can quickly spread.

  4. Order: Hemiptera
    Superfamily: Coccoidea
    Family: Monophlebidae
    Genus: Icerya
    Species: Icerya purchasi, the cottony cushion scale

    This species is a pest of citrus crops. If I remember correctly, it is largely hermaphroditic (males are extremely rare and true females are unknown — the hermaphrodites self-fertilize). The grooved structure seen in the photograph is the egg sac. Like many other scales, this species also secretes honeydew which can encourage the growth of sooty molds and thereby cause even more damage to host plants.

    • Full credit for the ID (8 pts), plus 3 early-bird bonus pts. I’ll also give you 2 pts for the structure and another 2 pts for the best description of their reproductive strategy.

      Total = 15 pts

  5. Hi Ted,
    This definitely looks like the cottony cushion scale, Icerya purchasi.
    Order: Hemiptera
    Family: Monophlebidae
    Genus: Icerya
    Species: purchasi

    I don’t know much about it, but according to online sources it most often affects citrus crops, is native to Australia, but is now found worldwide. The actual adult part of the body in the picture is fairly small and to the left in the picture. The huge white grooved outcropping to the right of the orange-ish body is actually an egg sac that can contain up to 1000 eggs. The whole thing is covered in some waxy substance. My plant ID skills are not what they should be, so I have no idea what plant it’s sitting on!

  6. It is the cottony cushion scale insect; order Hemiptera, family Monophlebidae, genus Icerya, species purchasi (Maskell, 1878). The white fluted structure on the right is the egg sac, made of wax secreted from the grooved abdomen. It contains up to around 1000 eggs and is 2-3 times larger than the body of the animal. The body is the orange structure partly covered in waxy secretions (some forming ‘fluff’, others forming ‘hairs’) which are defensive and can also block insecticides, meaning that more mature waxy stages can be resistant to some degree. Imidacloprid does not affect this species (unlike its congeners) but the vedalia ladybeetle (Rodolia cardinalis) has been used as biocontrol, as has the parasitic fly Cryptochaetum iceryae (Cryptochaetidae). The white appendages on the left are wax covered legs (and antennae I think) stuck to the substrate (generally a branch or stem – often Citrus or Pittosporum, but other woody plants can be used) by waxy secretions as mature adults/imagos are sedentary. First instar nymphs are not waxy, and are orange and mobile, often being called crawlers (they are the dispersal stage, spreading by crawling and possibly on the wind); they feed on small leaves and twigs and are seen as pests. Later instar nymphs are waxy but mobile. OK, that’ll do!

    • 6 pts for the ID (would have been 8 pts if you had used italics), plus an early-bird bonus pt. You also earn 2 pts for describing the structure, two bonus pts for mentioning its impact on protection against insecticides, and 2 bonus points for discussing the crawlers.

      Total = 12 pts

  7. It sure looks like a Cottony Cushion Scale (order Hemiptera, family Monophlebidae, genus/species Icerya purchasi). And considering that the ones in North America are actually invasives from Australia, I’d say it’s pretty likely that the ones in Argentina are the same species from the same place. I see a number of papers about I. purchasi in Argentina, so that seems even more likely (although there is at least one more species, Icerya subandina, that lives in Argentina; and I. brasiliensis sure sounds like a South American species; and Wikipedia claims that there are 53 known species in this genus. I can’t find pictures of any of these others, though, so I’ll stick with I. purchasi).

    And in that case, most of the insect in the picture isn’t actually insect: the big white “cushion” under the abdomen is a wax-covered egg case filled with maybe a thousand or so eggs. The actual insect would be the sharply-curved brown portion, and its legs and parts of its body are frosted with wax that help keep it from drying out and evidently also fend off predators somehow.

    I’ve never seen one of these in real life, seeing as how they are evidently a semitropical species. And given that they are self-fertilizing hermaphrodites[1] that breed like crazy and suck juices from a lot of different crop plants, ranging from citrus to blueberries, this is one of the times that I am thankful for our climate.

    It seems to be sitting on lichen, which obscures the bark(?) of the plant that it is infesting. I don’t recognize the plant, in any case. Although that dark gray with yellow spots is probably distinctive enough that it could be identified from pictures. I see that Argentina is big on growing lemons, so I’ll say it’s a lemon tree, Citrus x limon.

    [1] I see that, while most of the time they fertilize themselves, they will sometimes have eggs that develop into winged males that fly off to spread their genetics around.

    • Full ID credit (8 pts), but sorry all the early-bird bonus pts are gone! 2 pts also for describing the structure. I’ve given other 2 bonus pts each for country of origin and will do the same, and I’ll give one for the reproduction (would’ve been two had you mentioned the crawlers). You’re the only one that discussed related species, so that’s worth a point, and I’m so impressed with your deductive process on the host that I’ll give you 2 bonus pts for that as well.

      Total = 14 pts

  8. Looks like an unused cigarette filter with a little tobacco on the tip-new to your game so I have to peruse the other sections of your blogs comments to know how to play. Such a fun game & a great way to promote science-as a former teacher, that is so important!

  9. A bug in sheep’s clothing? The cottony cushion scale, Homoptera: Sternorrhyncha: Monophlebidae Icerya purchasi. Now we just need some Vedalia beetles!

  10. This is a cottony cushion scale: order Hemiptera, family Monophlebidae, genus Icerya, species purchasi. The cottony cushion scale is a major pest of citrus in California. They produce honeydew and are mutualists with ants.

  11. I think it is the Cottony Cushion Scale Adult, Icerya purchasi, Maskell
    Scourge of the citrus grower!
    Family: Monophlebidae
    Genus: Species: Icerya purchasi
    This is not a great photo: sort of out-of-focus. I cannot see details of the head….will have to go searching for more information & photos.
    Living in the Midwest I have not had the opportunity to observe these as much as, say, the corn borer.

  12. You have pictured a female Cottony Cushion Scale (Icerya purchasi). The order is Hemiptera (formerly Homoptera), and the family is Monophlebidae (formerly Margarodidae). Pictured is the female/hermaphrodite scale with the white, fluted ovisac extending to right from underneath her/it’s body. You also have white wax covered filaments protruding from the margin of the body. Also visible are the tufts of short, black setae around the margin of the body. the transparent wax rods that help support and hold together the egg sac can be seen protuding from the furrows at the posterior margin of the egg sac. Within the fluted egg sac should be the reddish eggs. The wax acts to protect the eggs from predators and dessication.

  13. Hemaphrodite cottony cushion scale Hemiptera:Coccoidea:Monophlebidae: Icerya purchasi
    The reddish disc is the dorsal surface of the scale insect. The white extrusions are the egg sac of the insect.

  14. En español se llaman “cochinillas algodonosas”. Lo de “algodonosas” es por la sustancia blanca como cera o algodón que secretan, pero lo de “cochinillas”… ??? No idea… (“cochino” is a pig, so “cochinilla” means “little pig female”)

  15. Is this Icerya purchasi, the cottony cushion scale? If so, that would also make it Order Hemiptera, Family Monophlebidae. Apparently it is a pest of citrus fruit, and has been controlled by the vedalia ladybeetle and a parasitic fly. At least according to Wikipedia! Also, the white fluffy stuff is an egg sac.And most important of all, honeydew secretions by this insect are consumed by some ants!

  16. Order: Hemiptera
    Family: Monophlebidae
    Genus: Icerya
    Species: purchasi
    This is a female, and its only visible features include the abdomen and thorax. Like most female scale insects, this is probably immobile.

  17. It’s time to start handing out points for this challenge. The insect pictured is the cottony cushion scale, Icerya purchasi. Modern classifications place this species in the family Monophlebidae (formerly a subfamily of Margarodidae), which of course was formerly in the order “Homoptera” before that taxon was subsumed within the Hemiptera. Bonus pts will be explained individually under each comment, but in all cases full ID credit is given (2 pts per taxon) only when correctly and explicitly stated (half credit if only implied or obsolete), and genus and species must also be properly italicized to receive full credit (half credit if not). Because of the number of correct answers, I’m limiting early-bird bonus points to the first 10 correct responders to prevent giving this particular challenge too much weight in the overall standings.

    Pull up a chair and enjoy the show!


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