While searching for the prey of the newly described scale-feeding beetle Cybocephalus kathrynae T. R. Smith (Smith & Cave 2006) on the coastal sand dunes of Bahia Honda State Park, Monroe Co., Florida, we collected a diaspidid scale on seashore dropseed, Sporobolus virginicus (L.) Kunth (Poaceae), in a habitat dominated by sea oats, Uniola paniculata L (Poaceae) (Fig. 1). The scale was identified as Haliaspis nakaharai Howell, which represents a new North American record for this species. Prior to this record, H. nakaharai had only been collected in Puerto Rico and Vieques Island on the same host plant species. Voucher specimens are deposited in the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville, FL, and labeled as follows: USA: Florida, Monroe Co., Bahia Honda State Park, N24°39’54”-W81°15’21”; V-14-2005; Trevor Smith & R. D. Cave (E2005-2555-301).
We suspect that H. nakaharai may occur throughout the range S. virginicus, which is distributed along the coastal areas of the Gulf states and the Caribbean. This grass is very important in maintaining coastal dune habitats. Seashore dropseed has extensive root systems with long rhizomes connecting one grass clump to another, similar to sea oats, which help anchor the dunes. While much of the seashore dropseed at the collection site was infested with H. nakaharai, nowhere did we observe any population densities that could be considered anything but slight. Many scales showed indications of predation. On the same scale-infested plants we observed several individuals of the coccinellids Chilocorus cacti (L.), Exochomus childreni childreni Mulsant, and Naemia seriata seriata (Melsheimer). None of the scales appeared to be parasitized.
We thank Howard Frank for reviewing a draft of the manuscript. This research was supported in part by a grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS 7276186-12) and approved for publication as IRREC series No. 020602.