Common name

Ensign scales or ortheziids

Field characters

Adult females with a thick wax ovisac that is attached to the abdomen and not the host; body adorned with patches of thick wax giving an ornate, elegant appearance; legs and antennae large and dark.

Validation characters

Anal ring on dermal surface, with pores and setae; apex of antenna with thick terminal seta; abdominal spiracles present; eyes stalked; predominant pore type quadrilocular; usually with ovisac band around perimeter of ventral abdomen.


Ensign scales are relatively uniform in their morphology and are easily distinguished from other scale families. Ortheziidae Amyot and Serville was first used as a family by Enderlein (1914).


Ortheziids occur in all zoogeographical regions of the world. Find a list of species from the Australasian region, Afrotropical region, Nearctic region, Neotropical region, Oriental region, and Palaearctic region. They are most speciose in the Neotropical and Nearctic regions, and the least numerous in the Australasian and Oriental areas.


Ortheziids occur on a broad diversity of host plants ranging from mosses and fungi to grasses and woody shrubs, even on small herbaceous plants.

Life history

Ensign scales have 4 instars in the female and most likely 5 instars in the male. It is unknown if the prepupa is mobile like most margarodoid groups or is sedentary like other scale insects. The life history of these scales is not well described. In the greenhouse on coleus Insignorthezia insignis (Browne) could complete a life cycle in 30 days and reproduction was strictly parthenogenetic. Offspring were deposited over 24 days and from 80-102 nymphs were produced per female (Shivakumar and Lakshmikantha 2001). Feeding occurred on the foliage of the plants.

Important references

Kozár 2004, Kozár and Konczné Benedicty 2000, 2001a; Kozár, Foldi, and Konczné Benedicty 2002; Kozár and Miller 2000; Miller and Kozár 2002; Morrison 1925, 1952.


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