please help with identification (san francisco, ca)
i have found several of these on my chili pepper plants which had recently been infested with aphids. they have the same shape as a scale, but look more complex. can you please tell me what this is? thanks! by the way, i am from san francisco, california.
This has turned out to be quite a day for us striking out in the instant gratification of insect identifications, as yours is the third inconclusive submission. We are confident that this is a Hemipteran, but after the order, we are not so sure. The closest visual match we can make is an Ensign Coccid, which BugGuide classifies as Suborder Sternorrhyncha – Plant-parasitic Hemipterans, Superfamily Coccoidea – Scales and Mealybugs, and Family Ortheziidae – Ensign Coccids. We also entertain the possibility that your insect may be a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera. There are numerous images on BugGuide, but we suspect, due to the not quite developed wings, that this is a nymph, and nymphs are sometimes very difficult to properly identify. We will contact Eric Eaton who is experiencing computer problems, so we don’t expect a speedy response. Meanwhile, we will post your photos and see if any of our readers has an answer.
Update from Eric Eaton (08/04/2008)
The unknown hemipteran is definitely a nymph, and possibly that of a psyllid (family Psyllidae). I know they can be extremely flattened in at least some cases, in sharp contrast to the much more three-dimensional adults. Whiteflies are another possibility, but I’m fairly certain these are not scale insects of any kind. I know that doesn’t clarify much, sorry:-)