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a question: insect pest on unknown fern

Alfred Geskin MetroVavin at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 4 11:07:08 EST 2000

I have a fern plant bought in a grocery store floral department.  Black,
stiff, thin, wiry, curly stems about 10 cm long. The inflexible dark green
heart shaped leaves with a smooth, leathery surface are 5 cm wide by 8 cm

It has a weird insect pest (must have come from the store).  It has the form
of a trilobyte (the ancient sea animal) and is a mm. or two long.  It is
snowy white and and clothed in white hairs.  It is a flat animal, very slow
moving, and it lives under the leaves and spins clumps of white cottony
stuff (which camoflage the animal).  It's a very beautiful little beast.  It
immediately dissolves into brown goo when touched with rubbing alchohol.
Heavily infested leaves seem to die, although I cannot see that the animal
is eating them.

Can anyone help me with the name of the plant and also the name and nature
of the pest?  Most importantly if the pest is specific to that species or


P.S. A trilobyte is a flat, carapaced sea animal with a prominant central
spine and perpendicular ribs, shaped like a long, isoceles triangle, with a
smaller triangular head attached to the base of the triangle.

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