Body broadly oval or rotund; round in lateral view; body dark purple, bright red when crushed, covered with white mealy wax, not forming an ovisac; body visible through secretion. Occurring on pads of host. Males abundant. Eggs are pale red and hatch soon after being laid.
This species was intercepted 16 times at U. S. ports-of-entry between 1995 and 2012, with specimens originating from Mexico. We have examined specimens taken in quarantine from the Canary Islands on cactus. ScaleNet includes hosts in the genera Nopalea and Opuntia in the Cactaceae, and it is most commonly intercepted on the latter. ScaleNet distribution records for D. coccus includes Madagascar in the Afrotropical region, Mexico in the Nearctic region, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela in the Neotropics and Azores, Canary Islands, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey in the Palaearctic region. No species of Dactylopius other than D. coccus, D. confusus (Cockerell), D. opuntiae (Cockerell), and D. tomentosus (Lamark) have been taken at U. S. ports-of-entry.