Phantasma scale (Fiorinia phantasma) is a pest of several ornamental plant species, especially those in the family Arecaceae (palms). This type of pest is prevalent in Hawaii, having a significant effect on the ornamentals in the area.
This pest has made its way to South Florida, adding to the list of invasive species that reside in our area. An infestation of this phantasma scale was found on 27 roadside palm trees in Miami-Dade county in March of 2018. This type of scale primarily eats away at palm leaves, which of course are very common in South Florida. When the scale feeds on the palm leaves, they leave behind a blotchy yellow appearance, eventually causing leaves to drop. The effects left by the scales can cause significant harm to ornamental growers, homeowners, and landscapers in South Florida, including economic harm.
Adult females are sometimes distinguishable by their red stripes. However, some females are clear or are completely red in color. Samples collected in Florida tend not to have the striped females. Owners and landscapers should keep an eye out for this invasive scale.
If you would like to learn more about the Phantasma scale, please read the DPI Pest Alert, or this Pest Advisory from the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture.