Toumeyella mirabilis - Mesquite Scale (& Crematogaster ant)
Arizona, USA

photograph © Alex Wild 2006

Believe it or not, the large splotchy blob in the picture is an insect.  Scale insects such as the Toumeyella pictured here are highly specialized feeders of plant juices and have lost many of the familiar external features of other insects.  Many scale insects are ant-tended, and this one is being visited by a Crematogaster ant.

USA AZ Cochise Co.: 5km SSE Sierra Vista, Ramsey Canyon Road.  1460m 31º28.02´N 110º15.87´W 
22.iv.2006   Prosopis woodland, Sonoran desert.  ex Prosopis.

Thanks to Demian Kondo for the scale ID.

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS D60, using a Canon 65mm f2.8 MPE 1-5x macro lens.