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Insect Identification Key
Scale Insects of the Suborder Sternorrhynca, Order Hemiptera

Scale Insect
These scale insects are Citrophilus mealybugs (Pseudococcus calceolariae). Note the little red spheres on the mealybug in the center of the photograph. Like many other members of this suborder, mealybugs secrete small droplets of fluid when they are disturbed. In this species, the droplets happen to be red. Photo credit: USDA/Q. Holdman.

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being a scale insect, which is in the suborder Sternorrhynca of the order Hemiptera!

General characteristics:
Scale insects are insects that live mainly on the sap of plants. Many bear little resemblance to insects. Some are flat and look much like scales on the bark of a tree or the stem of a plant. Many of them are covered in a waxy substance. To learn about other characteristics of the suborder Sternorrhynca, click here.


Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Subphylum Hexapoda
         Class Insecta
            Order Hemiptera
               Suborder Sternorrhynca

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the correct identification of your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz,; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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