Red Date Scales
Appearance and Size Facts
- Adult females are sphere-shaped with highly reduced legs or with legs completely absent
- Red to reddish-brown in color
- Found in areas of heavy white wax on the host plant
- Size: Adult females are roughly 1/25 to 1/16 inch in length, with males being even smaller
- Plant death has been known to occur from very heavy infestations left untreated
Behavior and Habitat of Red Date Scales
Four generations of red date scale occurs per year in the United States and overlapping generations are possible. Development time can range from 2 months to just over 5 months. Once eggs hatch, the female crawlers (mobile stage) find a suitable feeding site and insert their mouthparts. Once they begin feeding, they remain in place and begin to build a white waxy covering. Females go through three instars, while males, who cannot feed, go through five instars. Once females molt into the adult form, the males will mate with the females and die soon after.
Red date scale is currently only found in small areas within Florida. Previous infestations were eradicated in Arizona, California, and Texas. Feeding is generally restricted to palms in the genus Phoenix (Canary Island Date Palms, Edible Date Palms, Senegal Date Palms, Pygmy Date Palms), although feeding has been notated on the California Fan Palm, Washingtonia filifera, as well as from Eucalyptus spp. trees.
Signs of Infestation of Red Date Scales
On palms, the scale insects usually will start at the base of the fronds, near the trunk. Any leaves, stems, fruit, or trunk, as well as roots, both exposed or underground, can be infested. Plant death has been known to occur from very heavy infestations left untreated.
Tips for Prevention of Red Date Scales
For heavy infestations, a professional pest management company, such as Hulett Environmental Services, should be consulted.