University of California

Bionomics and control of the nigra scale, Saissetia nigra


Ralph H. Smith

Author Affiliations

Ralph H. Smith was Professor of Entomology and Entomologist in the Experiment Station.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 16(5):225-288. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v16n05p225. August 1944.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


Abstract does not appear. First page follows.


The nigra scale, Saissetia nigra (Nietner), has been for many years an important pest of ornamental shrubs and trees in the coastal region of California, and for more than half a century a well-known pest of such plants and of various agricultural crops throughout tropical and semitropical regions of the world. In California there has been some concern lest the nigra scale become a pest of citrus, avocado, and other subtropical fruits. The investigations reported herein were made mainly during 1937 to 1940, when the insect was exceedingly prevalent in the coastal region from Sonoma County on the north to San Diego County on the south.

Homeowners, gardeners, nurserymen, street and park superintendents, and pest-control operators had long needed information which would enable them effectively to control the pest. Control efforts had for many years been generally disappointing because the nigra scale has a remarkably long egg-laying period, extending from about the first of June to the following February, and because spraying had been done in mid or late summer, when only about half the eggs had been laid. In the past few years the control of the scale has been greatly aided by predaceous and parasitic insects. Particularly effective has been the parasite Metaphycus helvolus (Compere), introduced into California from South Africa in 1936-37 by the University of California.

This paper gives the results of a comprehensive study of the nigra scale and correlates the findings of a fragmentary Literature, comprising a large number of accounts in which references to the insect have been made. The bibliography compiled during the study comprises 215 titles, of which 107 are cited in this paper. About half the total printed matter is found in 10 papers devoted to descriptions of Saissetia nigra and its synonyms, and to discussions relating to its taxonomy. These papers are as follows: (Signoret (1873)), Lecanium depressum Targ.; (Douglas (1887)), L. depressum Targ.; (Douglas (1891)), L. nigrum Nietn.; (Douglas (1892)), L. begoniae n. sp.; (Maskell (1892)), L. depressum Targ.; (Cockerell (1893)), L. depressum Targ. and L. begoniae Dougl., (Maskell (1894)), L. niqrurn Nietn.; (King (1902)), S. nigrella n. sp.; (Newstead (1903)), L. nigrurn Nietn.; and (Green (1904)), L.

Literature Cited

Anonymous. Exhibitions and notes. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1906. 1(1):31 Anonymous.

Anonymous. Report of entomological division on plant pests. Insect pests, 1920. Trop. Agr. [Ceylon]. 1921. 56:147-50.

Anonymous. Notes and exhibitions. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1929. 7(3):369-72.

Anonymous. Investigations on the spike disease of sandal. 1931. Bangalore, India: Indian Institute Science. 16p.

Anonymous. Entomological notes II. Some common insect pests of fruit trees. Trop. Agr. [Ceylon]. 1936. 86:259-70.

Ashmead W. H. On the genera of the Eupelminae. Washington Ent. Soc. Proc. 1896. 4:4-20.

Ashmead W. H. New genera and species of Hymenoptera from the Philippines. U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 1906. 29:397-413. DOI: 10.5479/si.00963801.29-1424.397 [CrossRef]

Atkinson E. T. Insect pests belonging to the homopterous family Coccidae. Asiatic Soc. Bengal Jour., Part II. 1887. 55:267-98.

Ayyar T. V. R. The important insect pests of the castor oil plant in South India with suggestions for their control. Trop. Agr. [Ceylon]. 1936. 86:113-17.

Ballou H. A. Insects attacking cotton in the West Indies. West Indian Bul. 1904. 4:268-86.

Bardales M. A. El café, insectos nocivos. Guatemala Bol. Agr. y Caminos. 1929. 8:185-88.

Bodkin G. E. Notes on the Coccidae of British Guiana. Bul. Ent. Res. 1917. 8:103-9. DOI: 10.1017/S0007485300036543 [CrossRef]

Brain C. K. The intracellular symbionts of some South African Coccidae. Stellenbosch Univ., Ann. 1. Sec. A, No. 1923. 2:1-48.

Brain C. K., Kelly A. E. The status of introduced coccids in South Africa in 1917. Bul. Ent. Res. 1917. 8:181-85. DOI: 10.1017/S0007485300037597 [CrossRef]

Clausen C. P. Insects injurious to agriculture in Japan. U. S. Dept. Agr. Cir. 1931. 168:1-115.

Cockerell T. D. A. Notes on Lecanium, with a list of the West Indian species. Amer. Ent. Soc. Trans. 1893. 20:49-56.

Cockerell T. D. A. Coccidae or scale insects—V. Jamaica Bot. Dept. Bul. n.s. 1894. 1:69-73.

Cockerell T. D. A. Coccidae or scale insects—IX. Jamaica Bot. Dept. Bul. n.s. 1896. 3:256-59.

Cockerell T. D. A., Parrott P. J. Contributions to the knowledge of the Coccidae. Industrialist. 1899. 25:159-65.

Compere Harold. Descriptions of new coccid-inhabiting chalcidoid parasites (Hymenoptera). Univ. California Pubs., Ent. 1926. 4(1):1-31.

Compere Harold. A revision of the species of Coccophagus, a genus of hymenopterous, coccid-infesting parasites. U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 1931. 78(7):1-132. DOI: 10.5479/si.00963801.78-2850.1 [CrossRef]

Compere Harold. Notes on the classification of the Aphelinidae with descriptions of new species. Univ. California Pubs., Ent. 1936. 6(12):277-321.

Compere Harold. The African species of Metaphycus, Mercet. Bul. Ent. Res. 1940a. 31:7-33. DOI: 10.1017/S0007485300004764 [CrossRef]

Compere Harold. Parasites of the black scale, Saissetia oleae, in Africa. Hilgardia. 1940b. 13(7):387-425. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v13n07p387 [CrossRef]

Costa Lima A. da. Nota sobre os insectos que atacam o Algodociro no Brasil. Chacaras e Quintaes. 1922. 25:110-12.

Cotes E. C. Entomology notes. Indian Mus. Notes. 1889. 1:83-124.

Couch J. N. The genus Septobasidium. 480 p. 1938. Chapel Hill, N. C: Univ. North Carolina Press.

Coutinho Saraiva A. Papel da fumigação na economia citricola. Moçambique Bol. Agr. Epecúario. 1931. 1930(3-4):47-55.

Craw Alexander. Entomology and quarantine. California State Bd. Hort., Fourth Bien. Rept. 1894. 1893-1894:79-109.

Craw Alexander. Injurious insect pests found on trees and plants from foreign countries. California State Bd. Hort., Fifth Bien. Rept. 1895-. 1896. 96:33-55.

Crawford J. C. A new genus and species of Eupelminae. Washington Ent. Soc. Proc. 1908. 9:156-57.

Dash J. S. Report of entomological and mycological work carried on during 1914-15. Barbados Dept. Sci. and Agr. Rept. 1914-. 1916. 15:38-41.

Douglas J. W. Notes on some British Coccidae. Ent. Monthly Mag. 1887. 24:21-28.

Douglas J. W. Notes on some British and exotic Coccidae. Ent. Monthly Mag. 1891. 27:95-100.

Douglas J. W. Notes on some British and exotic Coccidae. Ent. Monthly Mag. 1892. 28:207-9.

Dupont P. R. Insect notes. Seychelles Dept. Agr. Ann. Rept. 1925. 1924:1-5.

Ehrhorn E. M., Fullaway D. T., Swezey O. H. Report of committee on common names of economic insects in Hawaii. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1912. 2:295-300.

Essig E. O. Injurious and beneficial insects of California. California Dept. Agr. Monthly Bul. 1913. 2:1-368.

Essig E. O. Insects of western North America. 1926. New York, N. Y.: Macmillan Company. 1035p.

Essig E. O. The negro scale in California. Pan-Pacific Ent. 1931. 8(1):36

Felt E. P. New Asian gall midges. New York Ent. Soc. Jour. 1915. 23:173-84.

Felt E. P. A new Diadiplosis. Zoologica [New York]. 1921. 3:225-26.

Fernald M. E. A catalogue of the Coccidae of the world. 1903. Amherst, Mass.: Carpenter and Morehouse. 360p.

Ferris G. F. Scale insects of the Santa Cruz Peninsula. Stanford Univ. Pubs., Univ. Ser. Biol. Sci. 1920. 1(1):1-57.

Ferris G. F. Report on a collection of Coccidae from Lower California. Stanford Univ. Pubs., Univ. Ser. Biol. Sci. 1921. 1(2):61-132.

Flanders S. E. Insects on rutaceous trees native to subtropical Australia. Pan-Pacific Ent. 1934. 10(4):145-50.

Flanders S. E. A preliminary report on Metaphycus helvolus Comp. as an effective parasite of the black scale, Saissetia oleae (Bern.). Univ. California Citrus Exp. Sta. Division of Beneficial Insects Invest. News Letter. 1940. 15:1-4. (Mimeo.).

French C. A handbook of the destructive insects of Victoria. 1891-1911. 5: Victoria: Melbourne.

Froggatt W. W. A descriptive catalogue of the scale insects (“Coccidae”) of Australia. Agr. Gaz. N. S. Wales. 1915. 26(7):603-15.

Froggatt W. W. A descriptive catalogue of the scale insects (“Coccidae”) of Australia. N. S. Wales Dept. Agr. Sci. Bul. 1921. 18:1-159.

Fullaway D. T. Preliminary list of the hymenopterous parasites of Coccidae and Aphidae in Hawaii. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1913. 2:215-16.

Fullaway D. T. Natural control of scale insects in Hawaii. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1920. 4:237-46.

Fullaway D. T. Hymenopterous parasites of the Coccidae in Hawaii. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1932. 8:111-20.

Gahan A. B. Descriptions of miscellaneous new reared parasitic Hymenoptera. U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 1922. 61(24):1-24. DOI: 10.5479/si.00963801.61-2445.1 [CrossRef]

Gahan A. B. Some new parasitic Hymenoptera with notes on several described forms. U. S. Natl. Mus. Proc. 1924. 65(4):1-23. DOI: 10.5479/si.00963801.2517 [CrossRef]

Gowdey C. C. Report of government entomologist. Jamaica Dept. Agr. Ann. Rept. 1925. 1924:17-20.

Granovsky A. A. Preliminary studies of the intracellular symbionts of Saissetia oleae (Bernard). Wisconsin Acad. Sci., Arts, Letters, Trans. 1929. 24:445-56.

Green E. E. The Coccidae of Ceylon. Part I. 1896. London, Eng.: Dulau and Co. 103p.

Green E. E. Notes on Coccidae from the Royal Gardens, Kew. Ent. Monthly Mag. 1897. 33:68-74.

Green E. E. The Coccidae of Ceylon. Part III. 1904. London, Eng.: Dulau and Co. 78p.

Green E. E. Notes on Coccidae collected by F. P. Jepson. … Fiji Bul. Ent. Res. 1915. 6:44 DOI: 10.1017/S0007485300043388 [CrossRef]

Green E. E. Remarks on Coccidae from northern Australia. II. Bul. Ent. Res. 1916. 7:53-65. DOI: 10.1017/S0007485300017077 [CrossRef]

Hall W. J., Ford W. K. Notes on some citrus insects of Southern Rhodesia. Mazoe Citrus Exp. Sta. Rept. 1933. 1932:1-51.

Illingsworth J. F. Preliminary notes on pests of agricultural crops of Kona, March 15, 1928. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1929. 7(2):248-54.

King G. B. A new species of the genus Saissetia (Coccidae). Psyche. 1902. 9:296-98. DOI: 10.1155/1902/82360 [CrossRef]

Kirkaldy G. W. Hemiptera. Fauna Hawaiiensis. 1902. 3(part 2):93-174.

Kuwana S. I. Coccidae of Japan (IV). A list of Coccidae from the Bonin Islands (Ogasawarajima), Japan. New York Ent. Soc. Jour. 1909. 17:158-64.

Lawson P. B. Scale insects injurious to fruit and shade trees. Kans. Univ. Bul. 1917. 18(1):163-279.

Leonardi G., Silvestri F. Monografia della cocciniglie italiane. Opera pestuma. 1920. Portici, Italy: Ernesto Della Torre. 555p.

Maskell W. M. An account of the insects noxious to agriculture and plants in New Zealand. The scale insects (Coccidae. 1887. Wellington, N. Z.: New Zealand Department of Forests and Agriculture. 116p.

Maskell W. M. Further coccid notes: with descriptions of new species from Australia, India … Demerara, and South Pacific. New Zealand Inst. Trans. and Proc. 1892. 25:201-52.

Maskell W. M. Remarks on certain genera of Coccidae. Entomologist. 1894. 27:166-68.

Maxwell-Lefroy H. The scale insects of the Lesser Antilles. Pt. I. West Indies Imp. Dept. Agr., Pamphlet. 1901. 7:1-63.

Merrill G. B., Chaffin Jeff. Scale-insects of Florida. Florida State Plant Bd. Quart. Bul. 1923. 7(4):177-298.

Myers J. G. A synonymic reference list of New Zealand Coccidae. New Zealand Jour. Sci. and Technol. 1922. 5:196-201.

Newstead Robert. Monograph of the Coccidae of the British Isles. 1903. II: London, Eng.: The Ray Society. 270p.

Nietner J. Observations on the enemies of the coffee-tree in Ceylon. 1861. Colombo, Ceylon: Ceylon Times. 32p. [Original not seen; see Nietner, 1880.]

Nietner J. Observations on the natural history of the enemies of the coffee-tree in Ceylon. Edinb. New Phil. Jour. n.s. 1862. 15:17-45.

Nietner J. Observations sur les ennemis du caféier, à Ceylon. Rev. et Mag. de Zool., 2d ser. 1863. 15:122-33. 240-44, 349-54, 386-90, 454-58. (See especially 15: 122-23.)

Nietner J. The coffee-tree and its enemies. 1880. 2d ed. Colombo, Ceylon: A. M. and J. Ferguston. 32p. revised and in some places corrected by Mr. S. Green.

Ogilvie L. Notes on the growing of citrus in Bermuda. Bermuda Dept. Agr. Agr. Bul. 1928. 7(2):3-6.

Petch T. Studies in entomogenous fungi. Brit. Mycol. Soc. Trans. 1926. 9:244-71. DOI: 10.1016/S0007-1536(26)80043-9 [CrossRef]

Ritchie A. H. Report of entomologist for the year 1915-1916. Jamaica Dept. Agr. Ann. Rept. 1916. 1916:31-34.

Rutherford A. Insects on rubber in 1913. Trop. Agr. [Ceylon]. 1914. 42:41-44.

Sasscer E. R., Weigel C. A. Further data on fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas in greenhouses on a commercial basis. Jour. Econ. Ent. 1923. 16:84-87.

Schrader F. The origin of the mycetocytes in Pseudococcus. Biol. Bul. 1923. 45:279-302. DOI: 10.2307/1536727 [CrossRef]

Signoret V. Essai sur les cochenilles ou gallinsectes. Soc. Ent. de France Ann. 1873. 3:395-448.

Silvestri F. Descrizione di nuovi Imenotteri Calcididi africani. Portici R. Scuola Super. di Agr. Lab. Zool. Gen. e Agr. Bol. 1914. 9:337-77.

Smith Harry S., Compere Harold. The establishment in California of Coccophagus modestus Silv. … with notes on its life-history. Univ. California Pubs., Ent. 1926. 4(3):51-61.

Smith Harry S., Compere Harold. A preliminary report on the insect parasites of the black scale, Saissetia oleae (Bern.). Univ. California Pubs., Ent. 1928. 4(9):231-334.

Smith R. H. Trees and shrubs attacked by nigra scale. Pacific Rural Press. 1939. 137(23):518-19.

South F. W. Work connected with insect and fungus pests and their control. St. Vincent Agr. Dept. Ann. Rept. 1911-. 1913. 12:7-12.

Steinhaus E. A. The microbiology of insects, with special reference to the biologic relationships between bacteria and insects. Bact. Rev. 1940. 4:17-57.

Steinweden J. B. Characteristics of some of our California soft scale insects. (Coccidae). California Dept. Agr. Monthly Bul. 1930. 19:561-71.

Takahashi R. Observations on the Coccidae of Formosa. Part I. Formosa Govt. Res. Inst. Dept. Agr. Rept. 1929. 40:1-82.

Targioni-Tozzetto A. Studii sulle cocciniglie. Soc. Ital. di Sci. Nat. Mem. 1867. 3:1-87.

Timberlake P. H. Observations in the sources of Hawaiian Encyrtidae (Hymenoptera). Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1919a. 4:183-96.

Timberlake P. H. Descriptions of new genera and species of Hawaiian Encyrtidae (Hymenoptera). Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1919b. 4:197-231.

Timberlake P. H. New species of Hawaiian chalcid-flies…. Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. 1926. 6:305-21.

Townsend C. H. T. Informe sobre la region algodonera de Iquitos. Vida Agr. 1926. 3(28):303-12.

Tryon H. Report of the entomologist and vegetable pathologist. Queensland Dept. Agr. and Stock, Ann. Rept. 1916-. 1917. 17:49-63.

Urich F. W. Insects affecting the cotton plant in Trinidad. Trinidad and Tobago Dept. Agr. Bul. 1916. 15:18-19.

Wilson C. E. Insect pests of cotton in St. Croix and means of combating them. Virgin Islands Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 1923. 3:1-20.

Wolcott G. N. An economic entomology of the West Indies. 1933. Bungay, Suffolk, Eng.: Richard Clay and Sons, Ltd. 688p.

Woodhams G. Some scales of ornamental plants. Mod. Gardening. 1939. 1(20):1 3.

Smith R. 1944. Bionomics and control of the nigra scale, Saissetia nigra. Hilgardia 16(5):225-288. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v16n05p225
Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu