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.

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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.

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