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Unknown.....Egg Case?

Unknown.....Egg Case?
Montrose, Laurens County, Georgia, USA
December 31, 2009
Size: 1mm and less
Can anyone tell me what the construct is in these photos? I didn't even notice it when I shot these pix, it was so bloody small. Is it an egg case? A newly-hatched scale?

Images of this individual: tag all
Unknown.....Egg Case? Unknown.....Egg Case?

Moved from ID Request.

John, I am not sure whether you are asking only about one of the "constructs" in this picture or all, but I can tell you some things about what you have here, just not unfortunately specifics in terms of species.

The long white test (partially visible here, more so in the tagged photo) is a skin of a male hard scale. The brown test is presumably a female test, and it doesn't appear to be a newly hatched one, because 3 tests are visible (smallest on the right, then a second and third). As for the smallest, circular object, it is posible that this is another species of scale. There are a few scale species which are both small and circular, and in some cases the males are also small and circular. Some examples (though many in my reference are listed as Calif. species, some bleed over into Florida and so are close): genus Aonidiella, the dictyospermum scale (which is usually less than 2mm even as an adult) which is species Chrysomphalus dictyospermi, Florida red scales (genus Chrysomphalus), genus Lindingaspis (Calif only supposedly), and oleander scales (Aspisiotus nerii) which are also 1-2 mm in diameter and fairly circular.

If I had to guess, I would say this looks most like the dictyospermum scale, but with only one in the picture and not knowing the host plant, I am not at all confident of that.

The same can be said of the other scales in the picture. The female scale at the left end of the tagged photo appears to have some more white - perhaps another white test? - which would remind me of a false oleander scale, but I would need to see more individuals and also usually there aren't any differently shaped males about for that species as is seen in this picture.

In general, newly hatched scales have legs and crawl around (they are called crawlers). They remind me of not quite developed aphids and are usually pinkish, orangeish, or yellowish. Scale eggs are usually encased under the female's body rather than in a separate case (female hard scales are immobile).

That likely didn't help much, but it could be a start.

No, Lisa, it was of inestimable help.
I need something of a hot-house education in this sort of way to make sure I know what I am doing and looking at. I hate getting only half the story in my photos. And, yes, I was generally only talking about the circular "construct" since I assumed it was a possible egg case, maybe one of a parasite. It was the only one I have been able to locate even after intensive search through the pine needles at the lower levels. I have gone over this tree almost daily looking for anything. Since the Deep Freeze of the two weeks before this one, there have been slim pickings although things are starting to crank back up. Bloody mosquitoes are back already, too. Thank you, now I have a better idea of how to approach shooting scale insects.

Plant... this photo appears to be a pine (Pinus) needle.

Pine Needle, yes
The scale insects I have encountered the past month have been on one particular pine tree. It is a very busy place what with strange wasps, cockroach oothecae, tons of hairy aphids, etc., etc. crawling all over it.

A "companion" scale
Just wanted to let you know that I think I found a potential scale species for your small round construct. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you.

Once I saw pine as the host (duh on my part), I checked pine scales (different section) and it gave a scale which has some stages which are small and round like this and is said to be often found together with Chionaspis on pine: the Black Pineleaf scale, Dynaspidotus (Nuculaspis) californica. It is odd that you have found only one individual, however, my reference says that crawlers can sometimes be dispersed by wind which might account for a single specimen ending up somewhere. I'm including links to some pictures for comparison to see what you think:

Black Pineleaf scale: mostly adult females, but note the tanish, smaller round scales (either immature or males, I am not sure) near the top of the shot. The blackish females are around 2 mm, so the tanish ones would be much smaller. Click the image to enlarge the photo.
Black Pineleaf scale: mostly immatures and/or males.
Black Pineleaf scales: Needles side by side showing both mature and immature and/or males.

This definitely isn't conclusive, but keep an eye out for any blackish female scales - which look very different as shown in the photos above - and if you see any you might have some more evidence.

And thanks for the vote of confidence, Charley, but some of the credit goes to my wonderful references. Unless someone wants to make slide mounts (I say "no thanks" to that), quite a bit of scale ID is looking at the male and female forms, what the population looks like (number of males versus females can help with ID), and what the host plant is with little bit of luck and/or guesswork thrown in. Oh and the aforementioned great references.

The round scales in the first
photo certainly come extremely close, in my opinion, for what it's worth. A number of days ago I shot some scale insects on the same tree just to document their over-all development. In one of the shots I noticed a scale different from the others with a circular pattern. I am going to put it up in another post so everyone can see what I've found. Most of the scale insects have gone through some kind of metamorphosis which I can't find described, so I guess I'll be putting those shots up, too. Again, thanks, Lisa.

This submission is a follow-up to this image

and others filed under this genus. I only have a very superficial knowledge of scale insects, so I'm glad Lisa has weighed in with some more information.

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