Common name

Ornate pit scales or cerococcids

Field characters

Adult females produce a waxy test that encloses the body. The test may be smooth, corrugated, stellate, checkered, or wool like. In most species it is cream to dark brown, but a few species produce tests that are orange, yellow, pink, red, or white. Tests are produced by adult females and second instar males. The male test is smaller and narrower than the adult female test. The tests of Asterococcus and Solenophora incorporate the shed skin of the first instar and probably have a test in the second-instar female as well as the second-instar male. Although some have suggested that this family induces pits, there is little evidence of this in the literature.

Validation characters

Cribriform plates and 8-shaped pores present; spiracular furrows usually present, posterior furrow usually divided; single anal plate; antennae 1-segmented; legs absent or represented by unsegmented sclerotized spine; anal lobes usually protruding; labium 3-segmented.

Notes

This is a relatively homogeneous group of scales without a large range of morphological diversity. Cerococcidae Balachowsky was first used as a family by Koteja (1974).

Distribution

Ornate pit scales occur in all zoogeographical regions of the world. Click here for a list of genera and species from the Australasian region, Afrotropical region, Nearctic region, Neotropical region, Oriental region, and Palaearctic region. They are most speciose in the old world with significantly fewer species in the Nearctic and Neotropical regions.

Hosts

Cerococcids are normally collected on woody shrubs or trees and are not recorded from grasses (with the exception of an incidental record of Cerococcus indicus (Maskell)) and most herbaceous plants. They are most commonly found on the stems and twigs of their hosts and apparently prefer 1- or 2-year old growth.

Life history

Ornate pit scales apparently have 3 instars in the female and 5 in the male. Based on information from a few United States species of Cerococcus, this family has the following life history. There is 1 generation each year and overwintering takes place in the egg stage inside of the female test. Eggs hatch in the spring and first instars leave the test through a small hole at the posterior end. Second instars appear in early summer and adults occur in mid to late summer. Eggs are laid in the test in the fall. Males occur in most species.

Important references

Borchsenius 1960d; Hamon and Kosztarab 1979; Howell, Williams, and Kosztarab 1971; Lambdin and Kosztarab 1976, 1977a.

Diversity

Click here for a check list of all cerococcid genera and species.