Common name

Giant mealybugs or putoids

Field characters

Body large, sometimes 5mm long; covered with thick tufts of mealy white wax; lateral filaments broad and coalesced; often with a central ridge of wax; with 2 black stripes on dorsal submedial areas when wax is removed; legs and antennae large and dark; no definite ovisac is produced in most species.

Validation characters

Body large and rotund; claw with basal denticle in addition to subapical denticle; cerarii large and conspicuous; trochanter with 3 or 4 pores on each surface; with trilocular pores, ostioles, translucent pores on hind legs, and usually with a circulus.

Notes

Giant mealybugs are quite uniform in their morphological characteristics. The family most likely includes only 1 or 2 genera: Macrocerococcus (which often is treated as a synonym of Puto) and Puto. Ceroputo clearly is a pseudococcid and not a putoid. Putoidae Tang was first validated as a family by Tang (1992). The status of this taxon as either a separate family or a genus in the Pseudococcidae remains controversial. Recent papers by Hodgson and Foldi (2006) (males), Downie and Gullan (2004) (molecular), Cook, Trueman and Gullan (2002) (molecular), and Hardy, Gullan and Hodgson (2008) (molecular and morphology) treat Puto as a separate family; in each of their trees Puto is outside of the Pseudococcidae. The paper by Gavrilov and Danzig (2012) disagrees with this hypothesis and places Puto in the Pseudococcidae.

Distribution

Giant mealybugs occur in only 4 zoogeographical regions of the world. Click here for a list of Puto species from the Nearctic region, Neotropical region, Oriental region and Palaearctic regions. They are absent from the Afrotropical, and Australasian regions.

Hosts

Giant mealybugs occur on a diverse range of hosts, but are common on conifers, grasses, and a series of woody shrubs. They occur on all parts of the host including the subterranean crown in some Nearctic species.

Life history

Giant mealybugs have 4 instars in the female and 5 in the male. Most species have a single generation each year, although Puto sandini Washburn requires 4 years to complete a generation (Washburn 1965). Puto antennatus (Signoret) has a single generation and feeds on conifers in the high elevations of the Bavarian Alps. Overwintering occurs in the immature stages under the bark of the host. In early spring the nymphs move to the bases of needle, enlarge, and appear as adults in early May. Adult males are common. Eggs are laid in July (Sampo and Olmi 1979). Macrocerococcus superbus Leonardi has essentially the same life history. There is a single generation each year, adults appear in May, and oviposition occurs in July. Mating is necessary for reproduction. First instars are the overwintering stage (Marotta 1992).

Important references

Danzig 1980, 1999;Gavrilov and Danzig 2012; Gullan and Cook 2007; Hodgson and Foldi 2006; Kosztarab and Kozár 1988; McKenzie 1967; Miller and Miller 1993b.

Diversity

Click here for a check list of all Putoidae species.