Common name

California cochineal scale

Field characters

Body broadly oval or rotund; round in lateral view; body dark purple, bright red when crushed, covered by thick filamentous ovisac secretion, individuals often indistinguishable in heavy infestations; body not visible through secretion. Occurring on pads of host. Males present.

Validation characters

Dorsal setae robust, apices truncate, becoming increasingly smaller and more slender anteriorly, large size restricted to posterior 2 or 3 segments, absent from thorax; tubular ducts abundant, most quinquelocular pore clusters with 1 or 2 associated tubular ducts; ventral wide-rimmed quinquelocular pore clusters absent from medial areas of thorax and abdomen; ventral narrow-rimmed quinquelocular pores sometimes abundant in medial areas of abdomen, uncommon on thorax; anterior portion of anal ring with thin sclerotization. Other characters: Hind femur with large translucent pores; antennae 7-segmented; quinquelocular pores arranged in clusters; anal ring without setae.


Dactylopius confusus seems to be most similar to D. tomentosus (Lamark) by having numerous tubular ducts, 2 distinct sizes of enlarged setae, and no ventral wide-rimmed pore clusters in medial areas of thorax and abdomen. Dactylopius confusus differs by having large sized dorsal setae confined to posterior 2 or 3 abdominal segments (present on abdomen and thorax on D. tomentosus) and by having anterior portion or anal ring represented by narrow sclerotization (no sclerotization on D. tomentosus).

U.S. quarantine notes

This species was intercepted 23 times at U. S. ports-of-entry between 1995 and 2012, with specimens originating from Mexico. We also have examined specimens taken in quarantine from Dominican Republic (Consolea); Haiti (Opuntia); Mexico (Cereus, Opuntia). ScaleNet includes hosts in the genera Cereus, Echocactus, Opuntia and Selenicereus in the Cactaceae from all zoogeographic regions except the Oriental region. The species seems to prefer flat padded species of Opuntia. No species of Dactylopius other than D. coccus Costa, D. confusus, D. opuntiae (Cockerell), and D. tomentosus (Lamark) have been taken at U. S. ports-of-entry.

Important references

DeLott1974a; Ferris1955a; Gill1993; GilreaSm1987; Mann1969; PerezGKo1992.

Scalenet catalog and citation list

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