Tea Scale of Camellia | Fiorinia phantasma

California Pest Rating for
Fiorinia phantasma Cockerell & Robinson: tea scale of camellia
Hemiptera: Diaspididae
Pest Rating: A


Initiating Event:

In March 2018, an infestation of Fiorinia phantasma was discovered on 27 roadside palm trees in Miami, Florida (Ahmad and Miller, 2018). This species is already present in Hawaii where it is a significant pest of ornamentals. During May 2018, Fiorinia phantasma was intercepted on a shipment of unidentified leaves from American Samoa.  This species has a Q rating. A pest rating proposal is required to assign a permanent rating to this species.

History & Status:

BackgroundFiorinia phantasma is a polyphagous armored scale and is considered a significant pest of nursery plants particularly ornamental palms (Arecaceae). It has been transported worldwide by movement of live nursery plants (Brooks, 2012 and Watson et-al., 2015). Female scales inconsistently show red stripes, running the width of the scale covering. Male and females can be found intermingled on the undersides of leaves. Eggs are large and can reach more than 1/5 of the body size of females. Crawlers begin to colonize the top side of leaves when populations reach high densities (Garcia and Hara, 2011).

Fiorinia phantasma causes yellow blotches on the upper leaf surface of host plants. Intense feeding damage is caused due to heavy infestations, resulting in leaf drop. In Hawaii, this scale impacts local nursery and landscape industry and poses an additional quarantine problem for exporters (Garcia and Hara, 2011).

In addition to palms, Fiorinia phantasma also feeds on shower tree (Cassia spp.), lobster claw (Heliconia caribaea), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), naio (Myoporum sandwichense), mock orange (Murraya peniculata), pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira), wax leaf privet (Ligustrum japonicum), and bread fruit (Artocarpus altilis) (NPDN- Pacific pest detector news).

Worldwide Distribution: Fiorinia phantasma was first found in the Philippine islands in 1915. It is currently known in American Samoa, France, French Polynesia, Grenada, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Nauru, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Reunion, Saint Martin and St. Barthelemy, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam (Watson et- al., 2015).

The first report of F. phantasma from the continental Unites States was recorded from a Canary island date palm on March 1, 2018 in Miami- Dade county, Florida. Heavy infestations have also been reported on palms in Hawaii (Garcia and Hara 2011 & Watson et-al., 2015).

Official Control: Fiorinia phantasma is listed as a harmful organism in the Republic of Korea (USDA PCIT).

California DistributionFiorinia phantasma is not present in the natural environment of California.

California Interceptions: Fiorinia phantasma has been intercepted 11 times by CDFA between 2010 and 2018 through regulatory pathways mainly through high risk pest exclusion activities and dog program inspections (CDFA PDR Database).

The risk Fiorinia phantasma (tea scale of camellia) would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Tropical and subtropical climate in the south coast of California is suitable for growing many palm trees. Other hosts plants including oleander, plumeria, cassia, weeping fig, pittosporum, podocarpus and murraya are grown throughout California. Fiorinia phantasma is likely to survive where these host plants are grown. 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: Fiorinina phantasma is known to feed on a wide range of host plants in 44 genera in 24 families. It has preference for Arecaceae (palm trees). Other families include Araceae, Apocynaceae, Calophyllaceae, Commilinaceae, Cycadaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Heliconiacaea, Lauracaea, Malvaceae, Melicaceae, Moraceae, Oleaceae, Orchidaceae, Pandanaceae, Pittosporaceae, Poaceae, Rutaceae, Sapindaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Strelitziaceae (García Morales et al., 2016). It receives a High (3) 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: Fiorinina phantasma remains active throughout the year in warmer climates.  Female lays approximately 10-15 eggs under its armor. Crawlers hatch in 10 days. The infestation actively spreads in crawler phase. Life cycle is completed in 1.5 – 2 months. It is spread in Hawaii by inter- island transport of nursery plants (Garcia and Hara, 2011, Watson et al., 2015). In California, if Fiorinia phantasma gets introduced and established, it is likely to move long distances through movement of infested nursery and landscape plants especially palm trees. It 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: Fiorinina phantasma is known to cause serious damage on areca palms in landscapes. Feeding by this species results in yellowing of leaves, leaf drop, loss of plant vigor, stunting of the host and even death of the plant. It is reported to have infested 6000 palm trees in the republic of Maldives (Watson et-al., 2015). If this species is introduced and gets established in palm growing and landscapes of south coast, it is likely to impact trade, including palms grown in nurseries. Possible use of horticultural oils and systemic insecticides for its control can increase production costs (García Morales et al., 2016). 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, C

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: 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 Fiorinina phantasma in California is likely to impact nursery and landscape plants as it can spread through transport of nursery plants. This species is not expected to lower biodiversity, change ecosystems and affect any threatened or endangered species. Since camellias, palms and other hosts are planted in home gardens, infestations would likely trigger chemical treatments by homeowners. It receives a Medium (2) in this category.

Evaluate the environmental impacts of the pest on California using the following criterion:

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: 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 Fiorinia phantasma (tea scale of camellia): High (14)

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: Fiorinia phantasma has not been detected in the natural environment of California. It receives Not established (0) in this category

Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records of specimens 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: High (14)


Fiorinia phantasma has been intercepted by CDFA in shipments of leucodendron, Psidium guajava, Annona muricata, boxwood and podocarpus. There are many nurseries in southern and central California that specialize in these hosts and different kinds of palm trees, the main hosts of this scale. Therefore, nursery and landscape plants may potentially be significantly impacted. There have not been any recent formal surveys of nurseries and palm growing areas for the presence of this species. It is possible that this scale could be present in some parts of California.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Fiorinia phantasma has never been found in the environment of California. Since there are several of its hosts plants being grown and propagated in CA, it would likely have significant economic and environmental impacts if this scale become established in California. An “A” rating is justified.


Ahmad, M, and Miller, D. 2018. First U.S. Continental Record of Fiorinia phantasma Cockerell & Robinson (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), Phantasma Scale, Potential Pest of Palms and Ornamentals Plants. Pest Alert. Publication: FDACS-P-01880. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer resources. Division of Plant Industry. Accessed 8/3/2018  https://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/79840/2332158/Pest_Alert_-_Fiorinia_phantasma.pdf

Brooks, F. 2012. Pacific Pest Detector News. A Quarterly Newsletter for First Detectors. March- May 2012, Number 9. National Plant Diagnostics Network. Accessed 8/6/2018  https://www.npdn.org/system/files/WPDN%20PacPestDetectNews_Mar-May2012.pdf

Cockerell, T. D. A., and Robinson E.  1915. — Descriptions and records of Coccidae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 34: 105–113

Garcia, J., and Hara, A. 2011. Fiorinia phantasma Cockerell & Robinson (Hemiptera: Diaspididae). New Pest Advisory, Plant Pest Control Branch, Division of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture, State of Hawaii 1: 1-2. Accessed 8/6/2018 https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2013/01/Fiorinia-phantasma-NPA.pdf

Morales, G.M.  Denno, B.D., Miller, D.R., Miller, G.L., Ben-Dov, Y., and Hardy, N.B. 2016. ScaleNet: A literature-based model of scale insect biology and systematics. Database. Accessed 8/3/2018 http://scalenet.info.  http://scalenet.info/catalogue/Fiorinia%20phantasma/

Pest and Damage Record Database. 2018. Fiorinia phantasma. Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services. California Department of Food and Agriculture. Accessed 8/2/2018  http://phpps.cdfa.ca.gov/user/frmLogon2.asp

USDA Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT) Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD). Harmful organism report: Fiorinia phantasma.  Accessed: 8/2/2018  https://pcit.aphis.usda.gov/pcit/

Watson, G.W., Williams, D.J., and Miller, D.R. 2015. The identity and distribution of Fiorinia phantasma (Cockerell & Robinson) (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Diaspididae), with a new synonym. Zootaxa 4048: 291-300.


Raj Randhawa, 1220 ‘N’ Street, Room 221, Sacramento CA 95814, (916) 403-6617, raj.randhawa@cdfa.ca.gov

Responsible Party:

Kyle Beucke, 1220 ‘N’ Street, Room 221, Sacramento CA 95814, (916) 654-1211, plant.health[@] cdfa.ca.gov.

Comment Period:*CLOSED

11/26/2018 – 1/10/2019


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Pest Rating:  A

Posted by ls