Melanaspis paulista

(Hempel, 1900)

Taxonomic note
Ferris, 1941, discussed the closely related genera Melanaspis and Acutaspis, which are mainly distinguished by the length and acuteness of the pygidium. He remarked that some species are morphologically intermediate and therefore difficult to place. Melanaspis paulista is one of these difficult species. Claps, 2000, moved this species to the genus Acutaspis. This combination is not accepted here because M. paulista does not have an elongate or particularly acute pygidium, and any re-assignment to Acutasis should await a better understanding of the limits of these genera.

Scale cover of adult female in life circular, 2.0 mm in diameter, cream-coloured, covered with a white pubescence; exuviae black, situated at margin. Ventral scale delicate, white. Scale cover of male oval, 1.5 mm long, dark chestnut brown with black terminal exuviae (Claps, 2000).

Body of slide-mounted adult female broadly pyriform, membranous, front of head not protruberant MELPAUS.jpg . Pygidium broad (subtended by an angle greater than 90°), with long macroducts; dorsal submedian macroducts absent; fringed plates present, perivulvar pores present MELPAP1.jpg ; three pairs of rounded lobes present, fourth lobes small and bluntly pointed. Paraphyses present, only slightly thickened towards their inner ends; a few short, irregularly spaced paraphyses present lateral to fourth lobes; paraphyses in first and second interlobular spaces 3-4x as long as the other paraphyses MELPAP2.jpg .

Host range
Melanaspis paulista is a polyphagous species recorded from hosts belonging to numerous plant families (Claps et al., 2001; Silva et al., 1968; Borchsenius, 1966). Hosts include species of: Annona, Aspidosperma, Begonia, Brunfelsia, Camellia, Cattleya, Citrus, Cocos, Cycas, Dictyosperma, Eugenia, Ficus, Hedera, Ilex, Jasminum, Laurus nobilis, Licania, Ligustrum, Malus, Mangifera, Maytenus, Musa, Myrsine, Nerium, Olea europaea, Phorodendron, Psidium, Rhododendron, Rosa and Spondias.

Affected plant stages: vegetative growing, flowering and fruiting stages

Affected plant parts: leaves and young branches (Foldi, 1988)

Biology and ecology
Melanaspis paulita is ovoviviparous (Claps, 2000); its biology has not been studied. Crawlers are the primary dispersal stage and move to new areas of the plant or are dispersed by wind or animal contact. Mortality due to abiotic factors is high in this stage. Dispersal of sessile adults and eggs occurs through human transport of infested plant material.

Economic impact
Garcia, 1971, listed M. paulista as seriously damaging olive in Argentina, and Fidalgo, 1983, mentioned that the species occured widely in northern Argentina and was a pest of olive in the region of Cuyo; it had also been recorded as a pest of Citrus.

Detection and inspection methods
Examine leaves and young ranches for cream-coloured circular scale covers.

Natural enemies

- Ablerus magistrettii, in Argentina
- Coccobius flavoflagellatus, in Argentina
- Encarsia ectophaga, in Argentina
- Neococcidencyrtus chrysomphali, in Argentina
- Signiphora sp., in Argentina
- Signiphora desantisi, in Argentina
- Signiphora fax
- Zaomma lambinus, in Argentina

- Coccidophilus citricola, in Argentina

See Melanaspis paulista distribution.

Microscopic examination of slide-mounted adult females is required for authoritative identification to species.

Melanaspis bromiliae (Leonardi) MELBRS.jpg could be misidentified in the key as M. paulista, but differs in its host preference and in having a fairly acute and triangular pygidium, and each paraphysis no more than twice as long as a median lobe MELBRP.jpg. In contrast, M. paulista has a broad pygidium, with some paraphyses 3-4 times as long as a median lobe MELPAP1.jpg. Melanaspis bromiliae is known from Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, South Africa, Seychelles, Togo, Portugal including the Azores, Belgium (under glass), Hungary, Italy (under glass), Netherlands, Spain (Canary Is), Taiwan, Japan, USA (Florida, and under glass in Pennsylvania), Brazil, Bahamas, Bermuda, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, USA (District of Colombia, Florida, Hawaii), India, Federated Malay States, Philippines, Singapore, South Mariana Is (Guam), Palau Is, Yap Is, and Pohnpei on pineapple fruit (Ananas spp.) (on which it is a pest), and leaves of dryland taro (Colocasia esculenta), Cocos nucifera, and species of Neoglaziovia and Pandanus and other hosts (Beardsley, 1966; Kawai, 1980; Nakahara, 1982; Deitz and Davidson, 1986; Longo et al., 1995; Miller, 1996; Gill, 1997; Danzig and Pellizzari, 1998; Tao, 1999; Heu, 2002). Colonies MELBRL1.jpg , MELBRIL1.jpg

Melanaspis smilacis (Comstock) MELSMIS.jpg (cochinilla negra de la piña) could be misidentified as M. paulista, but differs in lacking any perivulvar pores, and in the submarginal pygidial macroducts not forming neat rows MELSMIP1.jpg. In contrast, M. paulista has perivulvar pores MELPAP1.jpg, and the submarginal pygidial macroducts form a neat row on each side of segment VI, and a row parallel with the lateral margin of the pygidium on segment IV MELPAP2.jpg. Melanaspis smilacis is known from the eastern seaboard of the USA (Arizona, District of Colombia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia), Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil (Guanabara, Sao Paulo), Spain (Madrid), Egypt, Seychelles, Malaysia (Sabah), Brunei Darussalam and Taiwan, on the lower stems, underground stolons and leaves of species of Andropogon, Arundinaria, Dasylirion, Erythroxylum, Mammea, Nolina, Pennisetum purpureum, Saccharum officinarum, Smilax and Yucca (Silva et al., 1968; Nakahara, 1982; Deitz and Davidson, 1986; Amparo Blay Golcoechea, 1993; Miller, 1996; Tao, 1999). Deitz and Davidson, 1986, discuss diagnostic characters, affinities, morphological variation, life cycle and parasitoids of M. smilacis. Stoetzel, 1975, records one generation per year, with overwintering as fertilized adult females; 2-5 eggs laid per day by adult females; all stages are cream to pinkish in life; parasitoids are listed. Female scale covers MELSMIL1.jpg

The natural distribution of Melanaspis paulista is neotropical. It has been intercepted at plant quarantine in USA (California) from Peru (US National Museum of Natural History specimens). This species has not been recorded from outside South America.

Western Hemisphere
Argentina: widespread in northern part (Fidalgo, 1983)
Buenos Aires: present, no further details (Claps et al., 2001)
Catamarca: present, no further details (Claps et al., 2001)
Formosa: present, no further details (Fidalgo, 1983)
La Rioja: present, no further details (Claps et al., 2001)
Tucumán: present, no further details (Claps et al., 2001)
Amazonas: present, no further details (Foldi, 1988)
Guanabara: present, no further details (Foldi, 1988)
Minas Gerais: present, no further details (Foldi, 1988; Claps et al., 2001)
Pernambuco: federal district (Foldi, 1988; Claps et al., 2001)
Paraná: present, no further details (Foldi, 1988; Claps et al., 2001)
Rio de Janeiro: present, no further details (Foldi, 1988; Claps et al., 2001)
Rio Grande do Sul: present, no further details (Foldi, 1988; Claps et al., 2001)
Sao Paulo: present (Foldi, 1988; Claps et al., 2001)