Pest of the Month – May 2016

Tea scale of camellia – Fiorinia phantasma

Photos by Dr. Arnold Hara, University of Hawai’i, CTAHR


Adult female tea scales of this species inconsistently display horizontal red stripes (males are white).


Yellowing and necrosis on upper leaf surfaces caused by F. phantasma


Tea scale of camellia is a polyphagous armored scale. These mussel-shaped scales are found on the underside of leaves, are up to 0.67mm in length, and often have horizontal red stripes across their backs. Large eggs found under the females’ scale covering can reach more than 1/5 the female’s body size. Predators and parasites of this scale also have been identified.

Oahu (since 2004), Maui (since 2011). Also reported on the Big Island. Elsewhere, this scale was originally recorded in the Philippines.

Symptoms and Damage
F. phantasma is a generalist, and hosts include species of palms (coconut, foxtail, areca, and others), kamani, Cassia sp., Ficus benjamina, Ligustrum, Myoporum, and a number of others (see additional resources below for more complete listings). Feeding on the underside of leaves results in yellow blotches on the upper leaf surfaces, often with red-brown dead tissue in the most damaged areas. High populations can cause leaf drop.

Predators and parasites may not provide good levels of control. If using chemical control, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or other pesticides should be applied when crawlers are found. Adequate plant spacing, as well as pruning to reduce density, can help improve coverage when spraying. Thorough wetting of the undersides of leaves is critical for effective treatment. Once the insect matures and develops its protective covering, soap and oil spray are ineffective.

Homeowners should consult a professional pesticide applicator on the safe and effective use of chemical control.

Additional Resources

“New Pest Advisory: Fiorinia phantasma Cockerell & Robinson,” State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture (November 2011), No. 11-01. (Retrieved 5/16/16). URL:

Fiorinia phantasma Cockerell and Robinson (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), an Armored Scale Pest New to Hawaii”, Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society (2011), 43:59–61. Janis N. Garcia Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Plant Pest Control Branch (Accessed 5/16/16). URL:

The following webpage also has valuable information about tea scales in general: