Ceroplastes floridensis Comstock: Florida Wax Scale

California Pest Rating for
Ceroplastes floridensis Comstock: Florida Wax Scale
Hemiptera: Coccidae
Pest Rating:  A

Initiating Event:

Ceroplastes floridensis is regularly intercepted by CDFA and a pest rating proposal is required to assign a permanent rating.

History & Status:

Background: Ceroplastes floridensis Comstock, is one of the most commonly encountered soft scales throughout the southern United States, where it is a serious pest of citrus and several ornamental plants. Females have a reddish brown body coated with a thick layer of pinkish-white wax (11). Males are not known in this species (5). Eggs are laid under the female’s wax covering. Females feed and develop through three immature stages before becoming adult, producing eggs and dying (1). Three generations occur in Florida, but two generations per year are common throughout its global range. Each generation lasts about three to four months. Florida wax scales overwinter as newly mature females (11). The species is highly polyphagous feeding on plants of more than 150 genera (9). In Florida, this scale is considered a major pest of Citrus. It has also been recorded from species of holly, Elm, crepe myrtle, oaks, loblolly pine, deodar cedar, and other hardwoods and soft woods (4). In Texas, infestations have been observed on elephant ear, golden euonymus, honeysuckle, pomegranate, winged elm and Virginia creeper. Adult scales that colonize the underside of leaves, twigs and branches are difficult to spot, protected from heavy rains and foliar insecticides do not reach them easily (1).

Worldwide Distribution: Ceroplastes floridensis is thought to have originated from northern Neotropics, but they now occurs throughout the world. It has been found in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Pacific islands, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, North America and South America (11).

US Distribution: Ceroplastes floridensis occurs from New York to Florida and west to New Mexico (7).

US Interceptions: Ceroplastes floridensis was intercepted 108 times on a variety of hosts at ports of entry between 1995 and 2012 (10).

Official Control: Ceroplastes floridensis has been reported as a harmful organism in Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea (12).

California DistributionCeroplastes floridensis has never been found in the natural environment of California (6).

California InterceptionsCeroplastes floridensis has been intercepted 58 times between January 1, 2000 and November 2016 by CDFA’s high risk inspections, dog teams and nursery inspection programs (8).

The risk Ceroplastes floridensis (Florida Wax Scale) would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Host plants of Ceroplastes floridensis are grown throughout California. The climate is ideal to grow its hosts like Citrus, Almond, Quince, Apple, Fig, Japan Plum, Myrtle, Ferns, Oleander, Mango, Red Bay, Pomegranate, Ilex glabra, Anona reticulate, Andromeda and Anthurium (4). This species is likely to establish wherever these hosts are grown in the state. Florida wax scale receives a High (3) in this Category

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

Score: 3

– 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: Ceroplastes sp. attacks over 150 genera from 60 plant families from all geographic regions (9). Ceroplastes floridensis has been reported infesting a wide range of host plants including shrubs, trees and several herbaceous plant species (1). It receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the host range of the pest:

Score: 3

– 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: A female of Ceroplastes floridensis produces about 75-100 eggs during its life time (4). There are 2-3 generations per year and each generation lasts about 3-4 months. Crawlers emerge from underneath the female, disperse and settle on leaves. Older nymphs move around with in same plant to search for new flushes of growth (11) .The colonization of scales on upper leaves makes them vulnerable to heavy rain and other environmental factors, reducing their ability to survive and disperse (1). From a quarantine perspective, dispersal of any stage of Ceroplastes floridensis can occur through the transport of host plant material. The fact that this species has been intercepted many times at ports of entry, indicates that there is high likelihood of risk of introduction and spread in California. It receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest:

Score: 3

– 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: If Ceroplastes floridensis were to enter and become established in California, it is likely to cause heavy infestations of host plants. These infestations could cause discoloration of leaves, pre-mature leaf drop, branch dieback and even plant death. The crop losses could be significant in hosts like citrus and almond that are major crops in California and ornamentals such as crape myrtle, oleander and bay laurel that are widely distributed. To add to these losses, the sticky honeydew secreted by this scale could vector sooty mold fungus that can significantly reduce photosynthesis and the aesthetic value of host plants (11). It receives a High (3) in this category

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

Economic Impact: A, B, F

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 use

Economic Impact Score: 3

– 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: The establishment of Ceroplastes floridensis in California would likely impact cultural practices and ornamental plantings. Infested plants would need to be pruned off and pest resistant varieties would need to be planted. Sanitation and planting practices are likely to be impacted in the state if this scale were to spread in ornamental and horticultural plantings (11). Florida wax scale infestations could also trigger additional treatments, especially the use of systemic insecticides and foliar sprays (1). The application of broad spectrum insecticides is likely to disrupt local natural enemies including beneficial predators and parasites. (2). It receives a High (3) in this category

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

Environmental Impact: A, D, E

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:

Environmental Impact Score: 3

– 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 Ceroplastes floridensis: High (15)

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: Ceroplastes floridensis has never been found in the natural environment of California and receives a Not established (0) 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:

Score: 0

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: High (15)


Ceroplastes floridensis has been intercepted multiple times at ports of entry, border stations and through regulatory pathways in California. Therefore the likelihood of introduction risk of this species is high. The four Ceroplastes species already present in California are found on similar hosts like citrus, oleander and gardenia. There have not been any formal surveys of Ceroplastes floridensis in California. It is possible that this species might be present in some areas of the California.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Ceroplastes floridensis has never been found in the environment of California and would likely have significant economic and environmental impacts if it were to enter the state.  An “A”-rating is justified.

  1. Drees, Bastian M, Reinert James and William, Michaels. 2006. Florida Wax Scale: A Major Pest of Hollies and Other Landscape Shrubs and Trees. Texas A & M University, Department of Entomology http://landscapeipm.tamu.edu/ipm-for-ornamentals/florida-wax-scales/
  1. Dreistadt, S.H. and Kabashima, J.N. UC Statewide IPM Program Davis, Scales. Integrated Pest Management for Home Gardeners and Landscape professionals. http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PDF/PESTNOTES/pnscales.pdf 
  2. Essig, E.O. 1915. Injurious and Beneficial Insects of California. Comstock Memorial Library of Entomology. Host Index of Injurious insects Described or Cited. P 112-113       https://books.google.com/books?id=fBRDAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR8&lpg=PR8&dq=hosts+of+ceroplastes+floridensis+in+california&source=bl&ots=X1otK7Bpd9&sig=26PJwmeUF3U5LmS4dPSdwulIu1Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj1sJGj8fTQAhVMwWMKHWdbAdQQ6AEIHzAB#v=onepage&q=hosts%20of%20ceroplastes%20floridensis%20in%20california&f=false
  3. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 1983. Forest Health Publications. Bulletin No. 196-A, Florida Wax Scale http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Our-Forests/Forest-Health/Forest-Health-Publications/Insects-and-Diseases/Florida-Wax-Scale
  1. Futch SH, McCoy Jr CW, Childers CC. (April 2009). A guide to scale insect identification. EDIS. .
  1. Gill, Raymond J. 1988. The Soft Scales (Homoptera: Coccoidea: Coccidae). California Department of Food and Agriculture https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/ppd/PDF/Technical_Series_01.pdf
  1. Hamon AB, Williams ML. 1984. Arthropods of Florida and neighboring land areas, Vol. 2. Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.
  2. Pest and Damage Record Database, Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services, California Department of Food and Agriculture http://phpps.cdfa.ca.gov/user/frmLogon2.asp
  1. Scale net database: Ceroplastes floridensis (Comstock) http://scalenet.info/catalogue/ceroplastes%20floridensis/
  1. Scalenet: Identification Tools for Species of quarantine significance, Edition 2. Ceroplastes floridensis Fact Sheet http://www.idtools.org/id/scales/factsheet.php?name=6876
  1. Sharma Shweta and Buss, Eileen. Florida Wax Scale. University of Florida- Entomology and Plant Pathology. Featured Creatures. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/scales/florida_wax_scale.htm
  1. USDA Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT) Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD). https://pcit.aphis.usda.gov/PExD/faces/ViewPExD.jsp

Responsible Party:

Raj Randhawa, Senior Environmental Scientist; Dean G. Kelch, Primary Botanist; California Department of Food and Agriculture; 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; Tel. (916) 654-0312; plant.health[@]cdfa.ca.gov.

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Pest Rating:  A

Posted by ls