Other Common Names
Fluted Scale, Australian Bug, Australian Mealybug
Explanation of Names
Icerya purchasi Maskell 1878
s US and up the Atlantic seaboard (BG data); native to Australia
Hosts include many plants, though in FL Citrus and Pittosporum (Pittosporaceae) are most commonly affected - UF
The white fluted part of the insect is an egg sac that can contain up to 1000 eggs. The insect is hermaphroditic, producing sperm that can fertilize its own ova, but in an alternate reproductive strategy it can also make winged males that can fertilize the female part of other individuals.
When it first appeared in the w. US it was a major pest of Citrus crops. In CA, around 1889, it was an early success story for biological control by beneficial ladybird beetles (Rodolia cardinalis
). (Full story
) The control was so successful that in 1893 a Florida nurseryman asked for some of the beneficials to be sent to FL, to test as a control for other scale insects. The scale was included in the shipment as food for the beetles, and thus accidentally introduced to FL citrus.