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Scale insects are sap-sucking bugs in the superfamily Coccoidea: a group of insects comprised of about 7500 species worldwide but much smaller in New Zealand with less than 400 species.
[Pulvinaria mesembryanthemi]

[Pulvinaria mesembryanthemi]

The whiteflies (Aleyrodidae), with 16 species in New Zealand, are a sister group in the suborder Sternorrhyncha and have a similar life habit. They spend most or all of their lives feeding on plants, and adventive species are primarily important as plant pests on crops and fruit trees. Endemic species are generally not of economic importance except the sooty beech scales (Coelostomidiidae) that are beneficial in forest ecology and apiculture for their production of honeydew. Scale insects vary dramatically in their appearance from very small organisms (1-2 mm) that live under wax covers (some look like oyster shells), to larger creatures (5-10 mm) covered with mealy wax and that can walk around, and often produce their eggs in large ovisacs.

Each of the scale-insect families present in New Zealand varies widely in its number of genera and species and its proportion of endemicity. There is just one endemic family, the rather mealybug-like Phenacoleachiidae, with two described species. In contrast, Halimococcidae with one species and Ortheziidae with three species have no New Zealand endemics. Asterolecaniidae and Cerococcidae have about six and two species respectively, mostly endemic. The soft scales (Coccidae) have high endemicity with 45 of a total 59 species and 11 of a total of 17 genera found nowhere else in the world. Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) and armoured scales (Diaspididae) are characterised by a smaller proportion of endemic genera and species, while the felt scales (Eriococcidae) are hugely endemic at the species level with only five adventive species, mostly shared with Australia, out of a total 104 species. Also, felt scales have twice as many endemic taxa as adventives at the generic level. Some strange effects of New Zealand's volatile geological past are seen in the scale insect fauna, for instance, unexplained extinctions like the complete absence of armoured scales on Nothofagus, coupled with a strong radiation of felt scales on Nothofagus.


Stringer IAN, Hitchmough RA, Lariviere MC, Eyles AC, Teulon DAJ, Dale PJ, Henderson RC 2012. The conservation status of New Zealand Hemiptera. New Zealand entomologist 35(2): 110-115.

Hardy N, Henderson R 2011. Revision of Poliaspis (Hemiptera, Coccoidea, Diaspididae), with descriptions of 8 new species from Australia. ZooKeys 137(0): 1-40.

Henderson RC 2011. Superfamilies Aleyrodidae and Coccoidea: whiteflies, scale insects and mealybugs. 9 9 In: Gordon DP ed. New Zealand inventory of biodiversity Christchurch, Canterbury University Press. Pp. 268-274

Henderson RC, Crosby TK 2011. Images and text for 32 species of Coccoidea. New Zealand Biosecurity Image Library.

Henderson RC 2011. Diaspididae (Insecta: Hemiptera: Coccoidea). Crosby TK ed. Fauna of New Zealand. Lincoln, Manaaki Whenua Press. 275 p

Hill MG, Henderson RC, Mauchline NA 2011. Diaspidid (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) size plasticity as an adaptive life history trait. European journal of entomology 108(1): 153-159. WOS:000285980200018

Henderson RC, Sultan A, Robertson AW 2010. Scale insect fauna (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea) of New Zealand's pygmy mistletoes (Korthalsella: Viscaceae) with description of three new species: Leucaspis albotecta, L. trilobata (Diaspididae) and Eriococcus korthalsellae (Eriococcidae). Zootaxa 2644: 1-24. CCC:000282826400001

Macfarlane RP, Maddison PA, Andrew IG, Berry JA, Johns PM, Hoare RJB, Lariviere M-C, Greenslade P, Henderson RC, Smithers CN, Palma RL, Ward JB, Pilgrim RL, Towns DR, McLellan I, Teulon DAJ, Hitchings TA, Eastrop VF, Martin NA, Fletcher MJ, Stufkens MAW, Dale PJ, Burckhardt D, Buckley TR 2010. Phylum Arhtropoda subphylum Hexapoda: Protura, springtails, Diplura, insects. 9 9 In: Gordon DP ed. New Zealand inventory of biodiversity. Volume 2 : Kingdom Animalia : Chaetognatha, Ecdysozoa, Ichnofossils. Christchurch, Canterbury University Press. Pp. 233-467

Affeld K, Worner S, Didham RK, Sullivan J, Henderson R, Olarte JM, Thorpe S, Clunie L, Early J, Emberson R, Johns P, Dugdale J, Mound L, Smithers C, Pollard S, Ward J 2009. The invertebrate fauna of epiphyte mats in the canopy of northern rata (Myrtaceae: Metrosideros robusta A. Cunn.) on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. New Zealand journal of zoology 36(2): 177-202. CCC:000269403500009

Hardy NB, Gullan PJ, Henderson RC, Cook LG 2008. Relationships among felt scale insects (Hemiptera : Coccoidea : Eriococcidae) of southern beech, Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae), with the first descriptions of Australian species of the Nothofagus-feeding genus Madarococcus Hoy. Invertebrate Systematics 22(3): 365-405. WOS:000256832500004

Hardy NB, Gullan PJ, Henderson RC, Cook LG 2008. Relationships among felt scale insects (Hemiptera:Coccoidea: Eriococcidae) of southern beech, Norhofagus (Nothofacaceae), with the first descriptions of Australian species of the Northofagus-feeding genus Madarocccus Hoy. Invertebrate systematics 22: 365-405.

Henderson RC, Hodgson CJ 2005. Two new species of Umbonichiton (Hemiptera : Sternorrhyncha : Cocccoidea : Coccidae) from New Zealand. Zootaxa 854: 1-11.

Williams DJ, Henderson RC 2005. A new species of the mealybug genus Rastococcus Ferris (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Pseudococcidae) from New Zealand. Zootaxa 1085: 47-60.

Henderson R 2004. Unique multiplication of cephalic ducts in first instar Eulepidosaphes pyriformis (Maskell) (Hemiptera: Coccoidae: Diaspididae) on Dacrydium cupressinum (Podocarpaceae): a host induced effect leading to speciation? In: Erkilic LB, Kaydan MB ed. Proceedings of the x international symposium of scale insect studies ISSIS-X held at Plant Protection Research Institute Adana, Turkey 19th-23rd April. Pp. 59-70

Hodgson CJ, Henderson RC 2004. Coccidae (Insecta:Hemiptera: Coccoidea): adult males, pupae and prepuoae of indigenous species. Fauna of New Zealand. 51. Lincoln, Manaaki Whenua Press. -228 p

Charles JG, Henderson RC 2002/12. Catalogue of the exotic armoured scale insects (Hemiptera : Coccoidea : Diaspididae) in New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 32(4): 587-615.

Derraik JGB, Barratt BIP, Sirvid P, Macfarlane RP, Patrick BH, Early J, Eyles AC, Johns PM, Fraser PM, Barker GM, Henderson R, Dale PJ, Harvey MS, Fenwick G, McLellan ID, Dickinson KJM, Closs GP 2001/9. Invertebrate survey of a modified native shrubland, Brookdale Covenant, Rock and Pillar Range, Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand journal of zoology 28(3): 273-290.

Henderson RC 2001. New synonymies for two armoured scale insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Diaspididae) on Dysoxylum spectabile. New Zealand entomologist 24: 89-90.

Henderson RC 2001. Habitats of New Zealand soft scale insects. Pp. -.

Henderson RC, Rhode BE 2001. The hinged back plate mechanism in glassy wax tests of New Zealand male soft scale insects (Hemiptera : Coccoidea : Coccidae). Arthropod structure and development 30(1): 1-14.

Charles JG, Froud KJ, Henderson RC 2000/7. Morphological variation and mating compatibility within the mealybugs Pseudococcus calceolariae and P. similans (Hemiptera : Pseudococcidae), and a new synonymy. Systematic entomology 25(3): 285-294.

Henderson RC 2000. The status of Parlotoria species (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Diaspididae) in New Zealand. New Zealand entomologist 23: 51-53.

Hodgson CJ, Henderson RC 2000. Coccidae (Insecta: Hemiptera: Coccoidea). Fauna of New Zealand. 41. Lincoln, Manaaki Whenua Press. -264 p

van Epenhuijsen CW, Henderson RC, Carpenter A, Burge GK 2000. The rise and fall of manuka blight scale : a review of the distribution of Eriococcus orariensis (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae) in New Zealand. New Zealand entomologist 23: 67-70.

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