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common name: fig wax scale
scientific name: Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Coccidae)

Introduction - Distribution - Description - Biology - Host Plants - Economic Importance - Management - Selected References

Introduction (Back to Top)

Although extensively distributed world-wide, the fig wax scale, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus), was first discovered in Florida at several nursery and stock dealers in 1994 and 1995. It has been a pest of Ixora spp. and infrequently found on other host plants. Prior to the Florida discoveries, the California Department of Food and Agriculture had intercepted specimens from Florida.

Adult female fig wax scales, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus).

Figure 1. Adult female fig wax scales, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus). Photograph by Doug Caldwell, University of Florida.

Distribution (Back to Top)

Talhouk (1975) reported the presence of this scale in the Mediterranean region (Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey) and Argentina.

More recent reports also list:

Africa: Algeria, Angola, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madeira, Morocco, Principe, Sao Tome, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Asia: Afghanistan, Bihar, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Karnataka, Kerala, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam

Australasia and Pacific Islands: Australia (Northern Territory), Irian Jaya

Central America and Caribbean: Antigua, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Europe: Albania, Azores, Balearic Islands, Corsica, Crete, Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, Turkey, Yugoslavia

South America: Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Uruguay

(Ben-Dov 1993, CABI 2011, Vu et al. 2006).

In North America, it appears that it is only established in Florida (United States) (Hodges et al. 2005).

Description (Back to Top)

This scale is deeply encased in pinkish-gray wax, which is divided into three wax plates on each side with additional plates at the anterior and posterior ends. The single large dorsal plate has a central nucleus. Dorsal and lateral plates are separated from each other by dark red lines which are the color of the scale's body beneath the wax. The anterolateral and mediolateral plates have some white wax which indicates the stigmatic wax bands.

Adult female fig wax scale, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus).

Figure 2. Adult female fig wax scale, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus). Photograph by Division of Plant Industry, FDACS.

Biology (Back to Top)

The biology of the fig wax scale has not been studied in Florida but has been described on fig trees in Israel (Bodkin 1927). In general, adult females overwinter on twigs and produce eggs very early in the spring. The eggs hatch to crawlers which move to feed on leaves. After about one month, the crawlers molt to 2nd instar nymphs and migrate to the leaf petioles or to new shoots. Maturity is attained in the summer, and a new generation of crawlers is produced. These nymphs mature late in the fall, overwinter on the twigs, and repeat the cycle (Bodkin 1927). Swailem and Awadallah (1973) reported scales to be equally present on both upper and lower leaf surfaces on fig trees in Egypt.

Nymph of the fig wax scale, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus).

Figure 3. Nymph of the fig wax scale, Ceroplastes rusci (Linnaeus). Photograph by Division of Plant Industry, FDACS; www.insectimages.org.

Host Plants (Back to Top)

The fig wax scale has been reported on a broad range of host plants, including the following families:

The fig wax scale has also been found feeding on Citrus sinensis and C. reticulata in Greece (Argyriou and Mourikis 1981). In Florida, specimens of this scale have been identified on Annona squamosa (sugar apple), Mimusops roxburghiana (mimusops), Phoenix roebelenii (pygmy date palm), and Ixora spp.

Economic Importance (Back to Top)

The fig wax scale has been reported as a pest of citrus in Italy (Talhouk 1975). Infrequent major local infestations in the citrus-growing areas of Italy have been controlled with refined petroleum oils (Barbagallo 1981). Similar outbreaks occurring in the Aegean Islands, Greece, have been controlled by the application of oils in the summer. The presence of parasites [Coccophagus lycimnia Walker (Aphelinidae), Scutellista cyanea Motschulsky (Pteromalidae)] aid in keeping populations of the fig wax scale under control (Argyriou and Mourikis 1981).

Management (Back to Top)

Florida Citrus Pest Management Guide for scales
Florida Insect Management Guide for landscape pests

Selected References (Back to Top)