T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Scale (Peppercorn) Epelidochiton piperis

Genus: Epelidochiton
Species: Epelidochiton
Scientific name: Epelidochiton piperis
Common name: Peppercorn scale

Epelidochiton piperis  William Maskell named this species piperis in 1882, after the plant Macropiper or pepper tree. Peppercorn scale females develop a sclerotised patch in each plate area grows until the patches cover the whole area  This is quite different from all the other native soft scales and so it has its own genus, Epelidochiton, the name meaning "freckled skin". They seem to have more than one generation per year in warmer parts of New Zealand, and it has not been found south of the Nelson area. Females and males develop on the same leaves. The tiny winged adult males live for only a few days, long enough to mate with females. Unlike most other native soft scales, it is able to withstand urban environments.

Found on the  leaves on the following natives
Alectryon excelsus (titoki )
Aristotelia serrata (makomako/wineberry)
Coprosma robusta (karamu) 
Corynocarpus laevigatuskaraka 
Dysoxylum spectabile (kohekohe) 
Hedycarya arborea (porokaiwhiri / pigeonwood) 
Laurelia novae-zelandiae (pukatea) 
Macropiper excelsum (Kawakawa) 
Metrosideros sp. (rata) 
Pittosporum eugenioides (tarata / lemonwoodVitex lucens puriri)

Listen to the video of researcher Rosa Henderson from Landcare Research NZ Ltd introducing the tiny scale insects and talks about their role in the ecosystem.  http://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/Contexts/Hidden-Taonga/Sci-Media/Video/Scale-insects

A mature female Peppercorn scale on kawakawa leaf

Enlarged photo of a Peppercorn scale on the underside of a  Kawakawa leaf

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and Information:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/