Saturday, May 14, 2011
Bug ID on a small scale
Yes, these are insects. A man brought these to the arboretum for me to identify today. He found them on his star jasmine. They are soft scale insects. I think they were roughly about the size of sesame seeds. With the help of BugGuide and Google, I was able to identify these as Protopulvinaria pyriformis.
These are mostly mature female scales. The (sort of) heart shaped scaly part is a protective covering. Any vestige of buggy-looking parts, like legs and antennae, are under the cover. The transparent ones are immature. The tiny things are babies. Mature males look more like tiny little wasps and have no mouthparts. Their job is to mate, and then they die.
Scales can be damaging to plants. Heavily infested plants grow poorly and may suffer dieback of twigs and branches. An infested plant can sometimes become so weakened that it dies. Scales often secrete a sticky honeydew which is attractive to wasps and ants and which supports the growth of black sooty molds.
The fluffy white stuff is a scale egg case.
Here's another post about a different scale infestation I investigated last fall.