Red Date Scale on Phoenix Roebellinii

We’ve had a number of concerns the past few weeks over Phoenix Robellinii palms in Palm Beach County.  Several landscape professionals have indicated that they are noticing that new fronds emerge but do not open up.  The fronds eventually die.  If this is something you’re seeing, it may be caused by Red Date Scale.  Red Date Scale can be difficult to identify, especially at the egg stage.  Eggs are tiny and pink and tend to blend in with the natural scurf of the palm.  You can use your hand lens to see if there are eggs present.  The reddish adults are easier to identify, as pictured below.  Wax is often present with the adults.

United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs Archive, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Red Date Scale can infest any palm in the Phoenix genus as well as Washington and Rattan palms.  A very heavy spray of water can remove many of the scale insects.  Horticultural oil or soap can be used, but will need to be applied frequently.  A soil drench with an insecticide from the neonicotinoid family is the most effective method of chemical treatment.

Need more details?  Read more here: Red date scale, Phoenicococcus marlatti (Cockerell) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Phoenicoccidae) by  Adriana Espinosa, Amanda Hodges, Greg Hodges, and Catharine Mannion

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