A mealybug | Nipaecoccus floridensis Beardsley

California Pest Rating for
A Mealybug | Nipaecoccus floridensis Beardsley
Pest Rating: A



Initiating Event:

Nipaecoccus floridensis is currently Q-rated.  A permanent pest rating proposal is required to support an official pest rating.

History & Status:

Background:  Nipaecoccus floridensis is a small (approximately 1.4 mm long) mealybug that occurs on palms.  It was described recently and is very similar to N. nipae (Beardsley, 1999).  It is possible that some identifications of N. nipae were actually misidentified N. floridensisNipaecoccus nipae is present in California (reported from Alameda, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Ventura counties).  Nipaecoccus floridensis has been reported on the palms Acoelorrhaphe wrightii and Washingtonia robusta and Psidium guajava (guava) (Beardsley, 1999; Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 2005; Novoa et al. 2010).  In the nursery environment, it has been found on a variety of palms.

Worldwide Distribution:  Nipaecoccus floridensis is reported from Cuba and Florida (where it infests palms) (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 2005; Novoa et al. 2015).  It is possibly native to Florida (Peña, 2013).

Official Control: Nipaecoccus floridensis is apparently not under official control anywhere.

California Distribution:  Nipaecoccus floridensis has been found in numerous instances at California nurseries, but there do not appear to be any reports of this species being present in California outside of nurseries.  For this reason, it is assumed that it is not present in the environment of California.

California Interceptions:  Nipaecoccus floridensis has been intercepted on Annona squamosa fruit (probably from Florida) in 2015 (PDR # 570P06363493) and on a plant from Florida in 2017 (PDR # 010P06660306).  It has been found at nurseries (usually on palms) numerous times: Ventura County in 2000 (PDR # 1190499); Orange County in 1997, 1998, and 2001 (PDR # 1145197, 1212115, 1204342, and 085566); Los Angeles County in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 (PDR # 1122913, 1212067, 1294290, 1352589, 1352580, 1352496, 1352477, 190P06058690, 190P06058654, 190P06058656, 190P06058655, 190P06059656, 190P06059651, 190P06059638, 190P06620202, 190P06620188, 190P06620166, 190P06620165, 190P06620164, 190P06620167, 190P06620155, 190P06620155, 190P06620147, 190P06620146, 190P06620146, 190P06620134, 190P06620133, 190P06620125, 190P06620114, 190P06620113, 190P06620059 , 190P06619989, 190P06619878, 190P06060247, 190P06060186, 1252840, and 190P06060156); San Bernardino County in 2013, 2016, and 2017 (PDR # 360P06147027, 360P06381148, 360P06381138, 360P06578933, 360P06380913, 360P06380914, and 360P06202635); San Diego County in 2012 (PDR # 1508906); and Ventura County in 2012, 2015, and 2017 (PDR # 1508906, 56VP06083122, 56VP06083121, 56VP06084073, and 56VP06084022).

The risk Nipaecoccus floridensis would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction:

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Nipaecoccus floridensis is only known to occur in Florida and Cuba, although see Uncertainty, below. It is apparently restricted to tropical and subtropical areas.  It is possible that it could become established in a limited portion of California, perhaps the coastal, southern portion of the state.  Therefore, Nipaecoccus floridensis receives a Low (1) in this category.

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: Nipaecoccus floridensis has been reported from a few species of palms and from guava. It was intercepted on Annona squamosa fruit.  Therefore, it receives a Medium (2) in this category.

– 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: Mealybugs can be dispersed passively in the first instar (“crawler”) stage by wind (CABI, 2017).  Based on the numerous detections on palms at nurseries, Nipaecoccus floridensis is evidently capable of being dispersed artificially via transport of infested plants.  In addition, some Nipaecoccus are capable of producing over 1000 offspring per female (Bartlett, 1978).  Therefore, it receives a High (3) in this category.

– 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: Nipaecoccus floridensis feeds on palms.  Ornamental palms are a $70 million industry in California (Hoddle).  If N. floridensis was introduced to California, it could become a pest in nurseries and increase the cost of palm production.  Therefore, it receives a Low (1) in this category.

Economic Impact: B

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.

Economic Impact Score: 1

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 Nipaecoccus floridensis became established in California, it could trigger treatments if ornamental palms became infested. As palms are widely planted in the state, infestations and treatments in response could be widespread as well.  The only native California palm species, Washingtonia filifera, occurs in desert, and N. floridensis is unlikely to thrive in such an environment.  Therefore, it receives a Medium (2) in this category.

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

Environmental Impact: D

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:

Environmental Impact Score: 2

– 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 Nipaecoccus floridensis: Medium (9)

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: Although Nipaecoccus floridensis has been found at California nurseries numerous times, the species is presumed to not be established in the state, as no records outside of nurseries have been found. It receives a Not established (0) in this category.

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 (9)


As stated above, Nipaecoccus floridensis is similar to, and could have perhaps been misidentified as Nipaecoccus nipae in the past.  Therefore, N. floridensis may have a more widespread distribution than is reflected in literature and collecting records, which means that the climatic tolerance and feeding habits may be broader than what is suggested by those records.  It is apparent that N. floridensis has had numerous opportunities to become established in California, based on the fact that it has been found in nurseries multiple times, and it is possible that N. floridensis is already established in a limited part of the state but has gone undetected.  If the species is not established in California, it may be possible that it is not capable of becoming established here outside of the nursery environment.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Nipaecoccus floridensis is a palm-feeding mealybug that is not known to be established in California but could become a pest of ornamental palms.  Ornamental palms are an important industry in California, and they are an iconic symbol of the state.  For these reasons, an “A” rating is justified.


Bartlett, B.R. 1978. Pseudococcidae, p. 137–170. In: C.P. Clausen (ed.). Introduced parasites and predators of arthropod pests and weeds: A world review. Agriculture Handbook. 480. USDA, Washington, DC.  545 pp.

Beardsley, J.W.  1999.  Nipaecoccus nipae (Maskell) and two apparently undescribed sibling species (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Pseudococcidae).  Entomologica, Bari.  33: 49-57.

CABI.  2017.  Maconellicoccus hirsutus.  Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. www.cabi.org/isc

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  Florida cooperative agriculture pest survey program quarterly report no. 2-2005.  10 pp.

García Morales, M., Denno, B.D., Miller, D.R., Miller, G.L., Ben-Dov, Y., N.B. Hardy. 2016. ScaleNet: A literature-based model of scale insect biology and systematics.  Accessed 3 November 2017. http://scalenet.info.

Hoddle, M.  Has the South American palm weevil, Rhynchophorus palmarum, established in southern California?  University of California, Riverside, Center for Invasive Species Research. Accessed: November 17, 2017 http://cisr.ucr.edu/palmarum.html

Novoa, N.M., Hodges, G.S., Hamon, A., Kondo, T., Oliver, P.H., Herrera, M.D.M., and A.H. Marrero.  2015.  Insectos escama (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea) del Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, Sancti-Spíritus, Cuba y la relación con sus plantas hospedantes.  Insecta Mundi.  426: 1-27.

Novoa, N.M., Hodges, G.S., Rubio, M.V., Bonnin, P.C., and P.H. Oliver.  2010.  Nuevos registros de insectos escamas (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea) para Cuba.  Fitosanidad.  14(3): 181-183.

Peña, J.  2013.  Potential Invasive Pests of Agricultural Crops.  CABI.  464 pp.

Stocks, I.  2013.  19: Recent adventive scale insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) and whiteflies (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in Florida and the Caribbean basin, pp. 342-362.  In J. Peña (ed.), Potential Invasive Pests of Agricultural Crops.  CABI.


Kyle Beucke, 1220 N Street, Room 221, Sacramento, CA, 95814, 916-403-6741, plant.health[@]cdfa.ca.gov

Responsible Party:

Jason Leathers, 2800 Gateway Oaks Drive, Sacramento CA 95833, (916) 654-1211;  plant.health[@]cdfa.ca.gov.

Comment Period:* CLOSED

1/17/2018 – 3/3/2018


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Pest Rating: A


Posted by ls