Giant pine scale

Alert

Giant pine scale is present in Victoria. Restrictions are in place to stop the spread of this pest to other Australian states and territories.

A biosecurity certificate is required to bring plants from the family Pinaceae, and soil and equipment that has been in contact with plants in the family Pinaceae, into Queensland from Victoria, or other states or territories where giant pine scale has been found.

Find out more about interstate quarantine requirements.

Have you seen Giant pine scale?

Be on the lookout and report it.

Under Queensland legislation if you suspect the presence of Giant pine scale, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Early detection and reporting are key elements in controlling Giant pine scale.

Giant pine scale is a sap sucking scale insect of pines and other trees. The insect produces a covering of distinctive white, waxy, cotton-like secretions that are visible on infested trees. It also produces large amounts of honeydew on which sooty mould can develop.

Description

Adults

  • Up to 8–19mm long and 3–5mm wide.
  • Roughly ellipsoid shaped with tiny legs.
  • Yellowish, covered by a fluffy, waxy, white secretion for protection.
  • Females do not have wings, and the winged males have rarely been seen.

Nymphs

  • Ellipsoid shaped and pale yellow in colour. They develop a covering of waxy, fluffy white secretion.
  • Initially they are tiny, about 1mm long, and grow to about 7mm long.
  • The nymphs are commonly called 'crawlers' because they have legs and are able to move within or between trees.

Eggs

  • Oval shaped and yellow in colour.
  • Laid in fissures in the bark, beneath a white, waxy, cottonish layer.

Plant stage and plant parts affected

Trees of all ages are susceptible. Giant pine scale prefers the lower parts of the tree and occurs mainly on the trunk. It may also be found in the canopy and on exposed roots.

Plant damage

Severely infested trees can become dehydrated, resulting in wilt, needle drop and branch dieback that can eventually kill the trees. Affected trees also become weakened and susceptible to attack by other organisms such as insects.

May be confused with

Giant pine scale is fairly distinctive in that it produces an obvious covering of white, waxy, cotton-like secretions that are visible on infested trees. If you think you have seen giant pine scale, call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the National Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Distribution

In Australia, giant pine scale has been found in the metropolitan areas of Melbourne and Adelaide. The pest has not been found in Queensland.

Giant pine scale is native to the eastern Mediterranean area mainly in the Greece and Turkey region, and is found in other countries in Europe.

Hosts

Giant pine scale affects plants from the family Pinaceae.

Australia

Hosts include:

  • Pinus halapensis (Aleppo pine)
  • Pinus pinea (stone pine)
  • Pinus radiata (Monterey or radiate pine).

Pinus radiata is a new host record for the pest and as the pest is new to Australia, the host range may increase further.

Worldwide

Giant pine scale has been detected in:

  • pines
    • Pinus brutia (Turkish pine)
    • Pinus kochiana (Caucasian pine)
    • Pinus laricio tauricus
    • Pinus nigra salzmannii (black pine)
    • Pinus sosnowskyi (Corsican pine)
    • Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
  • firs
    • Abies cephalonica (Greek fir)
    • Abies nordmenniana (Caucasian fir)
  • spruces
    • Picea engelmanni (Englemann spruce)
    • Picea orientalis (Oriental spruce)

Similar species

Trees which may look like pines, spruces, and firs, but are not known to be hosts of giant pine scale include cypresses and Araucaria, Allocasuarina, Casuarina and Callitris species.

Life cycle

  • Giant pine scale females are able to reproduce without males and males are rarely seen.
  • Each female can produce over 300 eggs between November and January, which then hatch into crawlers.
  • The nymph grows through 2 developmental stages (instars) before becoming an adult.

Impacts

Large populations of sap sucking giant pine scale can cause defoliation, branch dieback and, in some cases, tree death. This pest can also reduce plant vigour, leaving the plant susceptible to attack by other organisms.

Pine tree death has primarily been observed in southern Greece and Crete, where large scale infestations have occurred. In Italy and Turkey, the pest has caused defoliation in urban and forest environments, but no tree deaths have been reported.

The impact of giant pine scale on commercial forestry plantations in Australia is unknown, however tree deaths in susceptible plantation species could potentially have an economic impact.

Weakened infested trees, and trees suffering dieback or tree death, in backyards, parks and gardens can result in loss of social amenity.

How it is spread

Long distance spread is most likely to occur when people move infested plant material, and soil and gardening equipment or machinery that has been in contact with infested plants.

Localised spread can occur within plantations or other host trees closely planted together as the immature mobile stage (crawlers) of the scale insect can move within and between trees.

Monitoring and action

The Biosecurity manual for the plantation timber industry (PDF, 1.9MB) provides advice on how to monitor your plantation for early detection of pests and diseases.

To avoid spreading it, do not touch, move or collect suspect samples or parts of infested trees.

If you think you have seen giant pine scale, call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the National Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Prevention

  • Use pest-free plant propagation material.
  • Practise good plantation/farm biosecurity - ensure your equipment and machinery is clean before taking it to other properties, and inspect equipment or machinery on arrival to your property to ensure they are clean and free of plant material or soil.

Protect your farm from plant pests and diseases:

Legal requirements

Giant pine scale is prohibited matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Report suspected giant pine scale to Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

If you think you have found giant pine scale, you must take all reasonable and practical steps under your control to minimise any associated risks. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).

Movement restrictions are in place to prevent the introduction of giant pine scale to Queensland. You need a biosecurity certificate to bring plants from the family Pinaceae, and soil and equipment that has been in contact with plants in the family Pinaceae, into Queensland from Victoria, or other states or territories where giant pine scale has been found.

Your cooperation in complying with these regulations and movement restrictions will help protect Queensland from giant pine scale.

Further information