Macrohomotoma gladiata (Kuwayama) | Curtain Fig Psyllid

California Pest Rating for
Macrohomotoma gladiata (Kuwayama): Curtain Fig Psyllid
Hemiptera: Psyllidae
Pest Rating: B

Initiating Event:

On August 28, 2015 Dr. Alessandra Rung identified psyllids collected in a nursery in Orange County as Macrohomotoma cf. gladiata.  A pest rating proposal is required to assign a permanent pest rating.

History & Status:

BackgroundMacrohomotoma gladiata is a psyllid that feeds on the new shoots of several varieties of ornamental Ficus trees1.  Adult psyllids lay eggs on new leaves of twigs and withered bracts1.  As the nymphs feed shoots become deformed, stop developing, and eventually die1.  Leaves become covered in white waxy secretions which facilitate the development of sooty-mold2.  The main hosts of the psyllid are curtain fig (Ficus microcarpa) and Cuban-laurel (Ficus retusa)1.  There are also questionable records from Indian banyan (Ficus benghalensis) and rusty-leaf fig (Ficus microphylla)1.

Worldwide Distribution: Macrohomotoma gladiata is native to China, Taiwan, and Japan where it is not considered to be a pest1.  It was first found in Europe in the Balearic Islands in 2009 where it emerged as a pest and has since spread to mainland Spain (2010) and Italy (2011)1.  It has not previously been found in North or South America.

Official Control: Macrohomotoma gladiata is not known to be under official control in any other states or nations.

California DistributionMacrohomotoma gladiata has been found at several residential and commercial properties in Anaheim, Orange County feeding on curtain fig (Ficus microcarpa).

California InterceptionsMacrohomotoma gladiata has been found in four nurseries in Orange County feeding on Ficus microcarpa.

The risk Macrohomotoma gladiata (curtain fig psyllid) would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Ficus microcarpa is a popular ornamental that grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11, corresponding with much of the San Joaquin Valley, Coastal, and Southern California. Macrohomotoma gladiata is expected to be able to establish throughout these regions wherever suitable host plants are found.  It receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California.  Score:

Low (1) Not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas.

Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California.

High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

2) Known Pest Host Range: Macrohomotoma gladiata is only known to feed on several varieties of Ficus trees and receives a Low (1) in this category.

Evaluate the host range of the pest. Score:

Low (1) has a very limited host range.

Medium (2) has a moderate host range.

High (3) has a wide host range.

3) Pest Dispersal Potential: Psyllids have high reproductive rates and can disperse locally by flying.  They may also be transported long distances when infested plants or leaves are moved or by hitchhiking on clothing, equipment, or animals.  Macrohomotoma gladiata receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest. Score:

Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential.

Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential.

High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

4) Economic Impact: Ficus microcarpa plants are a valuable component of the nursery industry.  If Macrohomotoma gladiata were to establish in the environment of California it is likely to lower nursery yields of these plants and increase production costs.  Due to the absence of this psyllid from the entirety of North America there could be disruptions to markets for California produced Ficus microcarpa nursery stock.  Macrohomotoma gladiata receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the economic impact of the pest to California using the criteria below. Score:

A.  The pest could lower crop yield.

B.  The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).

C.  The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).

D.  The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.

E.  The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.

F.  The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.

G.  The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts.

Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts.

High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

5) Environmental Impact: If Macrohomotoma gladiata were to establish in the environment of California it is not expected to lower biodiversity, disrupt natural communities, or change ecosystem processes.  It is not likely to directly affect threatened or endangered species or disrupt critical habitats.  Its presence is likely to trigger new chemical treatments in the nursery industry and by residents who find infested plants unsightly.  Ficus microcarpa trees are widely grown as ornamentals in California and are likely to be significantly impacted by this pest.  Macrohomotoma gladiata receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using the criteria below.

A.  The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.

B.  The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.

C.  The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.

D.  The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.

E.  The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Score the pest for Environmental Impact. Score:

Low (1) causes none of the above to occur.

Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur.

High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Macrohomotoma gladiata (Curtain Fig Psyllid):  High (13)

Add up the total score and include it here.

Low = 5-8 points

Medium = 9-12 points

High = 13-15 points

6) Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Macrohomotoma gladiata has only been found in the environment of Orange County and receives a Low (-1) in this category.

Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included.

Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.

Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).

Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Final Score:

The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: Medium (12)


There have not been any recent surveys for this psyllid in California, so it may be more widespread.  Over the last three years many new Ficus pests have been found in southern California including Ficus whitefly (Singhiella simplex), ficus eye-spot midge (Horidiplosis ficifolii), and Cuban-laurel thrips (Gynaikothrips uzeli).  It is possible that new treatments that are already necessary for these other new pests will preclude some of the economic and environmental impacts from additional new pests such as Macrohomotoma gladiata.  Alternatively, the psyllid might have a larger host range in California than has been documented elsewhere.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Macrohomotoma gladiata has been found in the environment of Orange County and is likely to have significant economic and environmental impacts as it expands its range in the state.  A “B”-rating in justified.


1 Pedata, Paolo Alfonso, Daniel Burckhardt, and Donato Mancini. 2012. Severe infestations of the jumping plant-louse Macrohomotoma gladiata, a new species for Italy in urban Ficus plantations.  Bulletin of Insectology 65(1): 95-98.

2 Mifsud, D. and F. Porcelli. 2012. The psyllid Macrohomotoma gladiata Kuwayama, 1908 (Hemiptera: Psylloidea: Homotomidae): a Ficus pest recently introduced in the EPPO region.  EPPO Bulletin 42(1): 161-164.

Responsible Party:

Jason Leathers, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814, (916) 654-1211,[@]

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Pest Rating: B

Posted by ls