Soft scales (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccidae) cause damage by sucking sap from different plant parts and like many other related sap-sucking insects, the soft scales eliminate honeydew from the anus. This is a sugary solution produced in the gut after feeding on the plant sap. A black sooty mould fungus often grows on the honeydew. Sooty mould gives plants a sickly appearance and negatively affects physiological activities.
Their body is generally round, oval but there are some species which are elongate. They can be highly convex or flat. Some of them have glassy transparent body and some are opaque and thick. They make their colonies on almost all parts of the plants including roots. Some species produce ovisac whereas some lay eggs beneath their body. Their colours in the field are highly variable with some species green to brown while some white and transparent.
They are distributed in almost all parts of the world and around 1088 species have been recorded so far. They are well represented in Palearctic (299 spp.), Neotropical (298 spp.) and Ethiopian (251 spp.) region, but are relatively less abundant in Oriental (126 spp.), Nearctic (105 spp.), Austro-oriental region (99 spp.), New Zealand & Pacific (60 spp.) and Madgasian region (43 spp.) (Scalenet.info).
Slide mounted specimens need to be studied for making taxonomic identifications. This website provides an account of 32 species of common soft scales of India with their classification (see Checklist).
Individual species accounts are in the form of standard fact sheets, providing details on the scientific name, classification and diagnostic description. The factsheets are accompanied by colour photographs of the live coccids and microphotographs of the diagnostic taxonomic characters.