Common name

Opuntia 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 usually distinct in heavy infestations; body not visible through secretion. Occurring on pads of host.

Validation characters

Dorsal setae robust, apices truncate, about same size on head as on abdomen of approximately 1 size only; 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 opuntiae is most similar to D. ceylonicus (Green) by having 1 size of enlarged seta scattered over dorsum. Dactylopius opuntiae differs by having longer, more slender setae, length/ width 1.3 to 1.6 (length/ width 0.7 to 1.2 on D. ceylonicus).

U.S. quarantine notes

This species was intercepted 160 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 Mexico (Opuntia) including 13 different interceptions from 1925 to 1992. ScaleNet includes hosts in the genera Cereus, Mammillaria, and Opuntia in the Cactaceae from all zoogeographic regions. The species seems to prefer flat padded species of Opuntia. No species of Dactylopius other than D. coccus Costa, D. confusus (Cockerell), D. opuntiae, and D. tomentosus (Lamark) have been taken at U. S. ports-of-entry.

Important references

DeLott1974a; Gill1993; Goeden1978; Mann1969; PerezGKo1992.

Scalenet catalog and citation list

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