Most herbivorous insects are diet specialists in spite of the apparent advantages of being a generalist. This conundrum might be explained by fitness trade-offs on alternative host plants, yet evidence of such trade-offs has been elusive. Another hypothesis is that specialization is non-adaptive, evolving through neutral population genetic processes and within the bounds of historical constraints. Here we report on a striking lack of evidence for the adaptiveness of specificity in tropical canopy communities of armored scale insects. We show that specialists abound and that host-use is phylogenetically conservative, but in comparison to generalists, specialists occur on fewer of their potential hosts, and are no more abundant where they do occur. Of course local communities might not reflect regional diversity patterns. But based on our samples, comprising hundreds of species of hosts and armored scale insects at two widely separated sites, host-use specialists do not appear to outperform generalists.