Identification: This scale belongs to the scale insect family Kerriidae, which are known for their resinous secretions referred to as "shellac". The resinous covering on the scale is light to dark reddish brown. Individual scale have a spherical (globose) shape, formed into four lobes which resemble a bow tie (1.5 mm long x 1.0 mm wide). The scale congregates into a mass of several individuals which are often covered with sooty mold. This sooty mold, which is found on the insect, as well as adjacent leaves and branches, will likely be the first indication of infestation noticed. The immature scale, or "crawlers", are red and an elongate oval shape.
Impacts: The lobate lac scale was first detected in Hawaii on the island of Oahu , 11 October 2012, on a Chinese banyan (Ficus Microcarpa). Subsequently it has been found on many fig tree species (Ficus sp.), hibiscus tree species (Hibiscus sp.), gardenia trees (Gardenia sp.), mangoes, and golden-rain tree (Koelreuteria elegans). It has been found to attack over 300 different tree species in 50 families, potentially having a major impact on economically and environmentally signifigant trees. The scale prefers to feed on twigs and branches of woody plants less than 3/4" in diameter, causing branches to dieback, eventually killing small shrubs and trees.
Dispersal Mechanism: The immature scale "crawlers" are mobile and can move about or carried by the wind. However, once the scale insect becomes sessile, it is unable to move for the duration of its life. The lobate lac scale is native to India and Sri Lanka. In 1992, it was found on plants in the Bahamas, and by 1999 the scale had reached Broward County, Florida. Once established in Florida, the scale hitched a ride on the invasive melaleuca tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia), expediting its spread throughout the state. If you see evidence of this scale anywhere in Hawaii- let someone know!
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