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Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Höhlenschildläuse
• English: ground pearls
• Español: perlas de tierra
• Français: perles de terre
Porphyrophora hamelii
Author: Vahe Martirosyan
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Margarodidae - (ground pearls)

This family contains around 100 species of scale-like insects. The larvae feed on plant roots and are found in sandy soil. The first instar nymphs are mobile and sometimes are transported by ants to the roots of their host plants. Dispersal by man with contaminated soil is also possible. After moulting, the nymphs loose their legs and antennae and secrete a waxy cover. In the ground pearls which are mainly found in tropical and semitropical regions, this cover is spherical and pearl-like and encloses the whole body with the exception of their mouthparts.

The ground pearls are attached to the roots of the host plants and can be found in depths of up to 60 cm. They are pink to yellowish brown and may measure up to 4 mm in diameter. After completing their development, the adults usually move to the surface for mating and females subsequently return to the soil to lay eggs on the plant roots. Some species reproduce parthenogenetically and the females lay their eggs inside the waxy cover.

For details see the respective page in Wikipedia.

The following species are currently entered under this family: