Common name

Beesoniids

Field characters

Most members of this family are from southern Asia and induce galls on dipterocarp hosts; a few species form galls on oaks or live in pits on the stems. One genus, Limacoccus feeds on palms, does not induce galls, and occurs in South America. Many of the galls induced by the Asian species look like leaf buds or fruit and are quite remarkable in their elegant appearance. Some are less spectacular forming small stem galls or pits. A few species are pupillarial, i.e., the adult female occurs inside the shed skin of the previous instar, but in others the adult females are found singly in the gall.

Validation characters

No single character can be used to diagnose this family at least in the adult female. Characters in the adult male and first instar are more distinctive. Characters that occur in adult females of some species are: anal ring without pores and with very enlarged setae; clypeolabral shield with large anterolateral extensions; antennae reduced to 5 or fewer segments; occurring in exuviae of previous instar, this instar with spiracles located near abdomen apex.

Notes

There seem to be 3 groups of rather different looking scales that are currently included in this family. The South American genus Limacoccus is quite different from the others and Foldi (1995) placed it in a separate tribe Limacocciini. Beesonia species differ from the remaining old world genera in that the adult female is very simplified and occurs inside the shed skin of the third instar which has the abdominal spiracles near the anal opening. The genera Mangalorea, Echinogalla, and Gallacoccus have adult females that occur singly in often elegant galls, are not pupillarial, and less simplified than in Beesonia adult females. Takagi (2007) suggested the possibility that first-instar males defend the galls and that adult males phoretically carry the first-instar females to other hosts. Beesoniidae Ferris was first used as a family by Ferris (1950).

Distribution

Beesoniids occur in 3 zoogeographic regions. Click here for a list of genera and species from the Neotropical region, Oriental region, and Palaearctic region.

Hosts

Old world beesoniids occur on the Dipterocarpaceae genera Shorea and Dipterocarpus and on the Fagaceae genus Quercus. The new world species all occur on the leaves of palms.

Life history

Beesoniids apparently have 4 female instars and 5 male instars with the exception of Gallacoccus which may have 3 female instars. The life history of these gall- inducing scales is quite bizarre. In some species there are dimorphic or even polymorphic crawlers and it has been suggested that first instars may act as soldiers, defending the female gall from natural enemies. It also has been suggested that adult males may carry female crawlers when they leave the adult female gall. In general adult males develop within the gall of the female or attached to it.

Important references

Ferris 1950; Foldi 1995; Gullan et al. 2005; Raman and Takagi 1992; Takagi 1987a, 1995, 2001, 2007.

Diversity

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