University of California

Biology of the fig scale in California


E. M. Stafford
D. F. Barnes

Authors Affiliations

E. M. Stafford was Assistant Entomologist in the Experiment Station, Davis, California; D. F. Barnes was Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Agricultural Research Administration, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Fresno, California.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 18(16):567-598. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v18n16p567. November 1948.

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Since its introduction into California, the fig scale, Lepidosaphes ficus (Signoret), has become widespread in the fig-growing areas of the Central Valley. Although the scale has been tolerated, especially on dried figs, heavy infestations are now recognized as definitely injurious to the fruit, with a resulting financial loss to the grower. In the fig-canning industry, for instance, the need for clean fruit can be easily recognized. Knowledge of control measures was essential, and this was gathered largely from the experience of the growers. The program was handicapped, however, by lack of information on the life history of the pest. The present study, with most of the work done in the vicinity of Fresno, was made in answer to the demand for more exact information in California.


According to (Ferris (1937)),4 the fig scale was originally described in France from cultivated figs growing at Cannes. (Newstead (1901)) quoted a record of its presence in England on figs imported from France in 1875. It was reported in Italy by (Berlese (1903)), (Leonardi (1920)), (Silvestri (1940)), and (Lupo (1942)). Other references to the fig scale were made by (Colvée (1881)), (Fernald (1903)), (MacGillivray (1921)), and others. (Umnov (1940)) reported it to be a minor pest of figs in the Crimea, and (Kuwana (1925)) reported it on pears in Japan.

The fig scale is thought to have been imported in California in 1905 with fig cuttings from Algeria. The infestation started at Fresno and spread somewhat slowly at first. In 1917, Roullard reported that the infestation was confined within a radius of about ¾ mile, where some 500 trees were involved. In 1931, Simmons, Reed, and McGregor reported that the scale had spread to a point about 60 miles south-southeast of the original infestation. The prevailing winds blow in this direction.

Evidence was also presented to show that the fig scale could be spread to Calimyrna fig trees in caprification by the use of infested caprifigs.

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Stafford E, Barnes D. 1948. Biology of the fig scale in California. Hilgardia 18(16):567-598. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v18n16p567
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