Common name

Cochineal scale

Field characters

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.

Validation characters

Dorsal setae thin, all about same size, often with slightly truncate apices; tubular ducts uncommon, present in a few quinquelocular clusters near anal ring, absent elsewhere; ventral wide-rimmed quinquelocular pore clusters present in medial areas of thorax and abdomen; ventral narrow-rimmed quinquelocular pores absent; anterior portion of anal ring with thin sclerotized area. Other characters: Hind femur with large translucent pores; antennae 7-segmented; quinquelocular pores arranged in clusters; anal ring without setae.


Dactylopius coccus is unique among the species of Dactylopius by having most clusters of wide rimmed quinquelocular pores without tubular ducts, by having slender dorsal setae that are only slightly enlarged, and by lacking narrow rimmed quinquelocular pores.

U.S. quarantine notes

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.

Important references

DeLott1974a; Ferris1955a; MarinLCi1977; PerezGKo1992.

Scalenet catalog and citation list

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