Body large, sometimes 5mm long; covered with thick tufts of mealy white wax; lateral filaments broad and coalesced; often with a central ridge of wax; with 2 black stripes on dorsalsubmedial areas when wax is removed; legs and antennae large and dark; no definite ovisac is produced in most species.
Giant mealybugs are quite uniform in their morphological characteristics. The family most likely includes only 1 or 2 genera: Macrocerococcus (which often is treated as a synonym of Puto) and Puto. Ceroputo clearly is a pseudococcid and not a putoid. Putoidae Tang was first validated as a family by Tang (1992). The status of this taxon as either a separate family or a genus in the Pseudococcidae remains controversial. Recent papers by Hodgson and Foldi (2006) (males), Downie and Gullan (2004) (molecular), Cook, Trueman and Gullan (2002) (molecular), and Hardy, Gullan and Hodgson (2008) (molecular and morphology) treat Puto as a separate family; in each of their trees Puto is outside of the Pseudococcidae. The paper by Gavrilov and Danzig (2012) disagrees with this hypothesis and places Puto in the Pseudococcidae.
Giant mealybugs occur on a diverse range of hosts, but are common on conifers, grasses, and a series of woody shrubs. They occur on all parts of the host including the subterranean crown in some Nearctic species.
Giant mealybugs have 4 instars in the female and 5 in the male. Most species have a single generation each year, although Puto sandini Washburn requires 4 years to complete a generation (Washburn 1965). Puto antennatus (Signoret) has a single generation and feeds on conifers in the high elevations of the Bavarian Alps. Overwintering occurs in the immature stages under the bark of the host. In early spring the nymphs move to the bases of needle, enlarge, and appear as adults in early May. Adult males are common. Eggs are laid in July (Sampo and Olmi 1979). Macrocerococcus superbus Leonardi has essentially the same life history. There is a single generation each year, adults appear in May, and oviposition occurs in July. Mating is necessary for reproduction. First instars are the overwintering stage (Marotta 1992).