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New palm pest in Florida: Phantasma scale (Fiorinia phantasma)

Phantasma scale (Fiorinia phantasma) is a pest of several ornamental plant species, especially those in the family Arecaceae (palms). In March 2018, an infestation of phantasma scale was discovered on 27 roadside palm trees in Miami-Dade county. It is already present in Hawaii where it is a significant pest of ornamentals. The scale feeds on the palm leaves, causing a blotchy yellow appearance, and eventually results in severe leaf drop. This pest has the potential to cause significant economic harm to ornamental growers, homeowners, and landscapers in Florida.

Photo by Janis N. Matsunaga, Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Adult females are sometimes distinguishable by their red stripes. However, some females are clear or are completely red in color. Samples collected in Florida tend not to have the striped females.

Palm owners should be on the look out for this invasive scale. You can read more information about Phantasma scale in this DPI Pest Alert, or this Pest Advisory from the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Not sure what scale insect you may have all your palms? Feel free to contact our UF Insect Identification Lab. 

You can also e-mail our Insect Identification Lab Manager, Lyle Buss