Coccus polonicus, Linnaeus, 1758

Williams, D. J. & Z. - Q, 2007, Carl Linnaeus and his scale insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) *, Zootaxa 1668 (1), pp. 427-490: 450-452

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.1668.1.23

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Coccus polonicus


Coccus polonicus  (Family Margarodidae  ) [now known as Porphyrophora polonica  (L)]

( Figure 6View FIGURE 6)


Adult female in life, broadly oval, sometimes attaining a length of 7 mm but usually shorter, often 2–4 mm wide. Colour red to violet.

Slide-mounted specimens of adult female, broadly oval, membranous, posterior end of abdomen rounded. Antennae 230–300 µm long, in specimens studied, others recorded as long as 350 µm, with 7–9 segments, gently tapering, most segments wider than long, apical segment about same width as previous segment, rounded, with flagellate setae 90–170 µm long, and fleshy setae 20–30 µm long, accompanied by a few minute sensory setae; placodeum situated on segment 6 in available specimens, apparently sometimes present on segment 4. Legs well developed; forelegs much expanded, trochanter + femur 380–400 µm long, 300–320 µm wide, almost triangular, tibia about 60 µm long, 70 µm wide, tarsus about 70–90 µm long; all segments with short setae except for long setae on coxa and on inner edge of tarsus; trochanter with 10–18 campaniform sensilla. Middle and hind legs smaller. Mid legs with trochanter + femur 170–200 µm long, 120–150 µm wide, tibia 110–120 µm long, 120–150 µm wide, tarsus 70–100 µm long, 50–60 µm wide at base, tapering; short setae present except for long setae on inner edge of tarsus, trochanter with as many as 10 campaniform sensilla. Claw 140–150 µm long, slender and curved. Hind trochanter + femur 170–210 µm long, 120–160 µm wide, hind tibia 110–130 µm long, 50–60 µm wide at base, segments with short setae except for longer setae on inner edge of femur. Claw 140–150 µm long. Thoracic spiracles each about 240 µm long, 110 µm wide, with associated disc pores, each about 10 µm in diameter with about 3 or 4 inner larger loculi and 24–29 smaller outer loculi, more or less in 2 rows but more loculi reported. Perispiracular sensilla minute, numbering 3 or 4 posterior to each thoracic spiracle. Abdominal spiracles numbering 2 pairs ventrally near margins of abdominal segments I and II. Anal opening simple, situated at apex of abdomen.

Dorsal surface with long, slender hair-like setae, each about 180–225 µm long, except some about 250 µm long on anterior margin of head, and some about 300 µm long on posterior margin of abdomen; most fairly numerous across middle of segments. Minute pointed setae also present, each about 10 µm long, interspersed with long setae. Disc pores, each about 10 µm in diameter, with mostly 3 larger central loculi and about 20 smaller outer loculi, numerous and mostly associated with setal collars across all segments. Minute pores present, scattered.

Ventral surface with long and short setae similar to those on dorsum. Disc pores each about 10.0–12.5 µm in diameter, with similar loculi to those on dorsum, present mostly across middle of segments but occupying larger areas on posterior abdominal segments and numerous in vulvar region.


Coccus polonicus  is not represented in Linnaeus’ collection. Although Linnaeus (1758) included no description, he listed important references with good descriptions and illustrations of the insect, those by Breyn being particularly detailed, leaving no doubt about the identity of the insect and validating the name. The insect is one of many similar species producing so-called ground pearls which are the intermediate instars that encyst, although they nevertheless feed.

The species was first assigned to the genus Porphyrophora Brandt & Ratzeburg  as Porphyrophora polonica  (L.) by Brandt & Ratzeburg (1833) where it has remained. Although P. polonica  is a fairly widespread subterranean species in the Palaearctic Region, it is mostly noted as the Polish Cochineal Insect where it has been collected in Poland to extract a red dye (see Cardon, 2003). Linnaeus (1761) recorded the species from Sweden but Gertsson (2001) now doubts if it is still present there. There are many synonyms, host plants and descriptions and, for a complete account of these, see Ben-Dov (2005). For full descriptions see Jakubski (1965), Foldi (2005) and Vahedi & Hodgson (2007).

The accompanying illustration ( Figure 6View FIGURE 6) has been prepared from some fine specimens collected in Poland, Klucze, Pustynia , Brędowska , Śląsk Górny , on Scleranthus perennis  , 7.xii.1997 ( T. Sklarzewicz), and kindly sent by Jan Koteja  .


Tavera, Department of Geology and Geophysics