February 2014 Pest of the Month

Hawaii Early Detection Network Priority Pest for Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Big Island.

Have you seen Hala Scale (Thysanococcus pandani)?

Hala scale on a hala leaf and fruit (inset) 

Identification: Presently only on the island of Maui. The hala scale insect (Thysanococcus pandani) causes yellowing of and serious damage to the leaves of Hala (Pandanus tectorius). Adult and immature scale insects are seen on the underside of Hala leaves. Adult scale have a dark body with a white fringe around the edge.

Impacts: Hala scale was first observed in Hana, Maui in 1995. Now, much of East Maui’s Hala is infested with the scale. The South Pacific island of Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, apparently lost its Pandanus trees in the 1920’s from a similar accidental insect introduction.  Aside from this possibility, infestation of Hala leaves with the scale renders it unusable for weaving and unsightly in the landscape.

Dispersal Mechanism: Hala Scale reached East Maui on an infested shipment of Hala brought to a botanical garden from somewhere in the Pacific. Knowing this, it is important not to transport Hala plants or leaves from Maui to other islands. If you see this scale pest anywhere else in Hawaii- let someone know! If you are in doubt, send a picture to the reporting page: http://www.pbin.org/invasives_report/online.asp and we will help you identify it.

Hala scale damage, which causes leaf yellowing, in Ha’iku on the island of Maui.

Lauhala, the leaves of the hala tree, are used in weaving mats, baskets, hats, and even canoe sails. The hala scale ruins lauhala for these purposes.

Information and photos came from Hawaii Biodiversity Information Network: http://www.reportapest.org/pestlist/thypan.htm

Hala Scale full length article.