The gall-inducing habit has evolved multiple times among the eriococcid scale insects (Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea: Eriococcidae)
The habit of inducing plant galls has evolved multiple times among insects but most species diversity occurs in only a few groups, such as gall midges and gall wasps. This phylogenetic clustering may reflect adaptive radiations in insect groups in which the trait has evolved. Alternatively, multiple independent origins of galling may suggest a selective advantage to the habit. We use DNA sequence data to examine the origins of galling among the most speciose group of gall-inducing scale insects, the eriococcids. We determine that the galling habit has evolved multiple times, including four times in Australian taxa, suggesting that there has been a selective advantage to galling in Australia. Additionally, although most gall-inducing eriococcid species occur on Myrtaceae, we found that lineages feeding on Myrtaceae are no more likely to have evolved the galling habit than those feeding on other plant groups. However, most gall-inducing species-richness is clustered in only two clades (Apiomorpha and Lachnodius + Opisthoscelis), all of which occur exclusively on Eucalyptus s.s. The Eriococcidae and the large genus Eriococcus were determined to be non-monophyletic and each will require revision. © 2004 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 83, 441–452.