Snow Ball Large Mealybug found in sand in Australia

Subject: Bug in playground sandpit
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
November 12, 2012 11:15 pm
My daughter and I found this bug in the sand at our local playground (Gold Coast, Australia).
Do you know what it is?
Thank you
Signature: Bruce & Brooke

Snow Ball Large Mealybug

Dear Bruce & Brooke,
This really is an unusual insect.  It sure looks primitive and perhaps it is larval.  We will post it as unidentified and try to do additional research.  Perhaps one of our readers will have a clue as to its identity.

Snow Ball Large Mealy Bug

Update:  November 13, 2012
Thanks to a comment from fiferworks, we now know that this is a Snow Ball Large Mealybug,
Monophlebulus sp., which can be found on the Brisbane Insect Website.  It seems this individual has lost its white cottony coating.  We verified the identification using the Encyclopedia of Life.

Karl supplies a thorough comment.
Hi Daniel, Bruce & Brooke:
Sorry about all the links in this one Daniel, but if all goes well I may be able to help clear up several mysteries, new and old.  I believe this is a Giant Mealybug (a.k.a. Giant Coccid or Ground Pearl) in the family Margorodidae. The genus is probably Monophlebulus and the common name appears to be Snow Ball Giant Mealy Bug or Snow Ball Large Mealybug. I was fairly certain that it had appeared on your site before but it took a while to find it as it had been identified tentatively as a ‘Giant Scale Insect’ (family not given) by Eric Eaton. Margorodids, along with true Scale Insects (Coccidae) and several other similar families all belong to the same Superfamily (Coccoidea) so I suppose they are all Scale Insects of a sort, but it does get a little confusing. It was posted by Kimberly and it appears to be the same as this recent posting. In the response to Kimberly’s post you linked to a previous and similar submission by Ridou Ridou, also tentatively identified as a Giant Scale Insect due to its similarity to Kimberly’s bug. I think this one was a different species of Giant Mealybug in the same genus, Monophlebulus. In one of the comments attached to Ridou Ridou’s post, rhoz identified the family Margorodidae and the genus Monophlebulus, although he spelled it slightly differently and seems to be referring to a bug that sounds more similar to the ones posted by Kimberly and Bruce & Brooke. These bugs are quite mobile as evidenced by this wonderful video I came across. One site that I checked out indicated that males of the genus have wings and can fly, in which case these may be all females. I hope this isn’t too confusing. Regards.  Karl

That’s wonderful, thank you Daniel.
What a great experience!  Within hours of finding a bug and having no idea what it was, we have an answer.   We are very fortunate to have the luxury of the internet and the valuable participation of websites like yours.
We’re now keen to get out there and find more bugs!
Keep up the good work and thanks again.
Bruce and Brooke


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