The occurrence of an African soft scale Hemilecanium theobromae Newstead (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Coccidae) in India is reported for the first time. The scale was collected on phylloclades of Euphorbia caerulescens Haw. (family Euphorbiaceae) growing in rocky hills of Kailasagiri village, Chintamani Taluk, Chikkaballapur district in the state of Karnataka, South India. Herein we provide basic diagnostic information for H. theobromae for both live and slide-mounted specimens and discuss its affinities with closely-related species. A key to separate the four species of Hemilecanium recorded from the Oriental Region, i.e. Hemilecanium imbricans (Green), H. mangiferae Kondo & Williams, H. theobromae and H. uesatoi Kondo & Hardy, is provided. Aspects of the distribution and economic importance of H. theobromae are briefly discussed. The presence of this alien insect in India is alarming and represents a possible major threat to cacao plantations.
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Vol. 28 • No. 2