NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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Latania scale insects, Hemiberlesia lataniae, are small insects covered by a circular, tan to gray, papery scale. The first instar scale remains more or less in the center of the mature scale. The yellow eggs of latania scale insect hatch within a few hours after they have been laid. The first-stage nymph, the crawler, usually does not migrate far from the parent insect. Crawlers usually settle within eight hours and immediately begin secreting wax, which eventually becomes the scale covering. Lataniia scale insects enlarge their scales as they grow. The only noticeable external change that takes place after settling is the gradual expansion of the scale covering. These scales mature and beging laying eggs in about two months. Latania scale insects may be infected by a Septobasidium fungus that protects these insects from parasites and predators, but infected scales may be stunted.

Latania scale insects

Latania scale insects may become exceedingly abundants.

A closeup of a latania scale test.

A closeup of a latania scale test.

Latania scale insects infest stems and leaves.

Latania scale insects infest stems and leaves.

The fungus, Septobasidium sp

The fungus, Septobasidium sp., sometimes completely obscures latania scale insects.

Host Plants

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Latania scale insects have been found on over 160 host plants including hollies, hummingbird bush, canna lilies, and even gladiolus corms. The scale usually occurs on branches and twigs, but as an infestation increases, it may also be found on the leaves and and even fruit. Smaller branches may be killed by a heavy infestation.

Residential Recommendations

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The tiny aphelinid wasp, Aphytis diaspidis, is a relatively common parasite of armored scale insects and it may be the major reason that latania scale is not more common and damaging in North Carolina. The twice-stabbed ladybird beetle, Chilocorus stigma, also feeds on latania scale as well as other scale insects. In case these natural enemies fail to control latania scales adequately, it is fortunate these scales are not particularly resistant to insecticides. Horticultural oils should give adequate control. Apply a horticultural oil on the next convenient day and then apply it again two weeks later to kill any new scales which may have been in the egg stage during the first treatment. Use a 2% rate for the oil during the growing season in order to avoid damaging the plants. During the winter, most plants are tolerant of the “dormant oil” rate (usually 4%). If the plant/scales are infested with a Septobasidium sp. fungus, spraying oil may help to loosen the Septobasidium fungus as horticultural oils are also somewhat fungicidal.


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This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.


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Publication date: April 22, 2015
Revised: Sept. 25, 2019

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by NC State University or N.C. A&T State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension county center.

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