Sodano, J., Oufiero, C.E., Schneider, S.A., & LaPolla, J.S. 2023 Scale insect (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha) morphology is transformed under trophobiosis. Annals of the Entomological Society of America


  • ant association
  • morphology
  • Notes: Obligately myrmecophilic mealybugs are noted for their unusual morphology, and while this is often attributed to their relationship with ants, a quantitative assessment of this link is lacking. We address this need by evaluating morphological change among mealybugs as a function of ant association. Myrmecophilous mealybugs are smaller than their free-living counterparts and are either pyriform or rotund in shape rather than oval. Ant associates from Rhizoecidae also have significantly reduced anterior pairs of ostioles compared to free-living species. Ostioles are involved in defense against natural enemies and mutualist ants typically protect their partners, presumably supplanting the need for structures like ostioles among myrmecophilous species.