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New insect pest in Miami-Dade County

What is it?

There is a new insect pest found in Miami-Dade County. An armored scale, to be specific, it is called the phantasma scale (Fiorinia phantasma) that can affect ornamental plants.

Where can it be found?

The distribution of this insect includes 21 countries: American Samoa, France, French Polynesia, Grenada, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Nauru, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Reunion, Saint Martin and St. Barthelemy, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam), and the Hawaiian Islands as well.

How do we know it is in Miami-Dade County?

This scale was found on a Canary island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) on March of 2018. The phantasma scale was found in a non-commercial location in our county and it has the potential to cause serious damage to our landscape and production areas.

What plants are at risk?

According to the Department of Agriculture this scale likes palms from the Arecaceae family but can also be found on the following plant families: Araceae, Apocynaceae, Calophyllaceae, Commelinaceae, Cycadaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Heliconiaceae, Lauraceae, Malvaceae, Meliaceae, Moraceae, Oleaceae, Orchidaceae, Pandanaceae, Pittosporaceae, Poaceae, Rutaceae, Sapindaceae, Scrophulariaceae and Strelitziaceae.

What symptoms/sign should I look for?

Signs: White clumps of sever infestation can be observed in the palm leaves. You should send the sample to an entomologist for a positive ID.

Symptoms: Chlorosis on leaves where these scales are feeding on. With more heavily infestation, leaf drops can occur. Loss of plant vigor and potential stunting and death.

 

Surveying in Miami-Dade county and educating home residents during the process.

Presence of scale adults on palm leaf collected during this survey.

 

Collaborative efforts going on:

UF/IFAS Extension agents, FDACS-Division of Plant Industry (DPI) and Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) staff worked together for days to survey several areas across Miami-Dade County. The suspicious samples will be evaluated at DPI laboratories to provide more information about the correct ID and distribution of this pest.

Local UF/IFAS TREC entomologist looking for phantasma scales near Palmetto highway (Miami-Dade County)

Photo Credits: E. V Campoverde UF/IFAS Extension

Management:

Scouting and monitoring is the key of prevention for any pest.

If the infestation is starting you can apply mechanical control using high-pressure water sprays.

You need to accurately identify what insect you are dealing with. Please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for more information.

To read the pest alert released by the Department of Agriculture click HERE