Home>Factsheets > Soft wax scale - Ceroplastes destructor

 

Soft wax scale - Ceroplastes destructor

By N A Martin (2018)

Classification

Phylum:
Arthropoda
Class:
Insecta
Order:
Hemiptera
Superfamily:
Coccoidea
Family:
Coccidae
Scientific Name:
Ceroplastes destructor Newstead, 1917
  • Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Common Names

Soft wax scale
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Synonyms

Gascardia destructor (Newstead, 1917)
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Biostatus and Distribution

This adventive scale insect was first reported to be in New Zealand in 1940. It is found in the Northern half of New Zealand. It is mainly found on cultivated plants and is an important pest of citrus in Gisborne and Northland.

Conservation status: The Soft wax scale is pest of Citrus trees.

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Life Stages and Annual Cycle

Adult females are coated with a thick, white, soft wax that is ‘wet’ to the touch. They are strongly convex and irregularly in shape. They are between 3.0-5.5 mm long and 1.5-3.0 mm wide. On the underside of the scale are a pair of tiny antennae and three pairs of tiny legs. It also has a short rostrum that holds the tips of the stylets that are inserted into the plant for feeding. At the rear end. there is hole through which excess liquid (honeydew) is excreted. Old females may become grey-white with sooty mould fungus.

When fully grown, the female lays eggs into a brood chamber under her body which gradually shrinks as it is converted into eggs. After hatching from the egg the nymph which has antennae and three pairs of legs, leaves the brood chamber through the anal orifice. The first instar (stage) nymph, which is called a crawler, walks to the upper surface of a leaf and settles by a vein. It inserts its stylets into the plant to feed. The body of the oval shaped scale is red and grows patches of white wax on top and laterally. When the first instar nymph is fully grown it moults into the next nymphal stage. The second instar nymph is similar to the first instar, but larger. It is also usually found on plant leaves. The third, and last nymphal stage usually crawls to a stem before settling and feeding. The third instar is covered with a thick layer of white wax that extends forward like a horn. Round the base are small ‘holes’ in the white wax and two or more lines of ‘dry’ white wax.

In New Zealand, only females are known and there is only one generation per year. The adult females lay eggs in the summer. They hatch from January onwards. The species over-winters mainly as third instar nymphs and young adults. The old wax cases of adults can be seen all year.

Feeding
Nymphs and adult females of Soft wax scale have sucking mouthparts. Specially shaped long rods called stylets are used for feeding. Until used for feeding the tips of the stylets held in the short sheath-like rostrum. When it wishes to feed, the scale insect moves the tip of the rostrum onto the surface of the plant. The stylets are then gradually pushed into the plant. The stylets form two tubes, one down which saliva is pumped into plant cells and the second tube through which it sucks the contents of the plant cells. If the insect inserts its stylets into the phloem, the plant vessels for transmitting sap from the leaves to other parts of the plant. The sap has a high volume of water and sugars, more than the insect needs. It excretes the excess water and sugar, which is called honeydew.

Walking and dispersal
The nymphs and adult females have legs large enough for walking. All these stages can walk around the leaves and stems of the plant on which they are born. The main stage that spreads to new host plants is probably the first instar (stage) nymph. In other insects this stage can be disperse long distances by air. It is not known if crawlers of this species go to high points of the plant and stand up to catch the wind.

  • Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Some of the soft white wax removed from an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae): note the dark red-brown rigid test that covers the scale body. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Some of the soft white wax removed from an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae): note the dark red-brown rigid test that covers the scale body. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • The underside of a female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae): note the thin white wax base to the egg chamber and the groove through which honeydew was excreted. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    The underside of a female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae): note the thin white wax base to the egg chamber and the groove through which honeydew was excreted. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • The pink eggs exposed in female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    The pink eggs exposed in female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Two images of an upturned adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) showing the eggs, white egg shells and nymphs. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Two images of an upturned adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) showing the eggs, white egg shells and nymphs. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Pink eggs, white egg shells and first instar nymphs exposed in female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Pink eggs, white egg shells and first instar nymphs exposed in female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Pink eggs, white egg shells and first instar nymphs exposed in female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Pink eggs, white egg shells and first instar nymphs exposed in female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Recognition

Scale insects in the family Coccidae require specialist skills for their identification, but the adult females of the three species of Ceroplastes in New Zealand can be recognised by their thick covering of wax. They are mainly found on plant stems. The young nymphs of these scale insects are also distinctive. They are usually found on the upper side of leaves and have small white wax plates in a star-like rosette.

The adult female Soft wax scale, is covered by a thick, white, soft wax that is `wet' to touch. It has a strongly convex and irregular in shape. The young nymphs of these scale insects on the upper side of leaves have small white wax plates in a star-like rosette with short ‘arms’.

The Chinese wax scale, (Ceroplastes sinensis Del, Guercio, 1900) is the most distinctive of the three species. The mature females are coated with thick layer of off-white wax that is coloured pinkish brown in patches, and has white `dry' wax in lateral and dorsal depressions. The young nymphs of these scale insects on the upper side of leaves have small white wax plates in a star-like rosette. It is found in the same parts of New Zealand.

The Indian wax scale, (Ceroplastes ceriferus (Fabricius, 1798)) has only been found in Gisborne on Citrus trees. The Indian wax scale is coated with thick pinkish white ‘wet’ wax. It normally has an anteriorly projecting ‘horn’. It has white `dry' wax in lateral depressions. Plates are visible on older adult females.

  • Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult female Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Small nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult female Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp., (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp., (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult females of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on the petiole of a leaf of Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult females of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on the petiole of a leaf of Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult females and third instar (stage) nymphs of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a stem of Mangrove, Avicennia marina (Acanthaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult females and third instar (stage) nymphs of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a stem of Mangrove, Avicennia marina (Acanthaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult females and young nymphs of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult females and young nymphs of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on a leaf of Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Natural Enemies

No pathogens of Soft wax scale are known in New Zealand.

Parasitoids
In New Zealand only one wasp parasitoid has been reared from Soft wax scale. It is a hyperparasite, a parasite of other parasites.

Predators
Two of the three predators of Soft wax scale in New Zealand are ladybirds both of which come from other countries. The third predator is an unidentified species of tiny mite that normally feed on fungi associated with decaying plants. Mites were found feeding on scale insect eggs.

Table: Natural enemies of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae), from Plant-SyNZ database (18 September 2018). The reliability index shows the quality of evidence for the host association (0-10, 10=high quality).
Scientific NameCommon NameClassificationEnemy TypeReliability IndexBiostatus
Coccidoctonus dubius (Girault, 1915) (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Encyrtidaeparasitoid10adventive
Halmus chalybeus (Boisduval, 1835)Steelblue ladybird (Beetle)Coleoptera: Coccinellidaepredator9adventive
Rhyzobius forestieri (Mulsant, 1853)Forestier's ladybird (Beetle)Coleoptera: Coccinellidaepredator10adventive
Tyrophagus sp. (Mite)Acari: Astigmata: Acaridaeomnivore7unknown
  • Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp., (Myrtaceae) with the exit hole of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp., (Myrtaceae) with the exit hole of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Underside of an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) containing a pupa (black) of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Underside of an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) containing a pupa (black) of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • The upper side (left) and underside (right) of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid that emerged from an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    The upper side (left) and underside (right) of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid that emerged from an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Three images of the upper side of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid that emerged from an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Three images of the upper side of a wasp (Hymenoptera) parasitoid that emerged from an adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), about 4 mm long. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Adult steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), about 4 mm long. Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Mature larva of steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Mature larva of steelblue ladybird, Halmus chalybeus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Adult Forestier's ladybird, Rhyzobius forestieri (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Adult Forestier's ladybird, Rhyzobius forestieri (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
  • Larva of Forestier's ladybird, Rhyzobius forestieri (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
    Larva of Forestier's ladybird, Rhyzobius forestieri (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Image: Tim Holmes © Plant & Food Research
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Host Plants

Soft wax scale are found mainly on cultivated and naturalised plants, and sometimes on native plants. Occasionally it can reach high numbers. The small nymphs are mainly found on the upper side of leaves, while the egg laying females are mostly on stems.

Feeding and honeydew
Like other Hemiptera, the adult female and nymphs of Soft wax scale have sucking mouth parts. The long stylets, special shaped rods, are held in a short rostrum on the underside of the body. When the insect wishes to feed the stylets are then gradually pushed into the plant. The inner pair of stylets, form two tubes, one through which saliva is injected into the plant and a second through which plants juices are sucked up into the insect. The adult females and nymphs of Soft wax scale insert their stylets into the phloem, the plant vessels for transmitting sap from the leaves to other parts of the plant. The sap has a high volume of water and sugars, more than the insect needs. It excretes the excess water and sugar, which is called honeydew. Sooty moulds may grow on the honeydew.

Table: Host plants of the Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) from Plant-SyNZ database (3 October 2018). The reliability score shows the quality of evidence for the host association (1-10, 10=high).
Common Name(s)Scientific NameFamilyReliability IndexBiostatus
Chinese gooseberry, Kiwifruit, Yang-taoActinidia deliciosa (A.Chev.) C.F.Liang & A.R.FergusonActinidiaceae10naturalised
Mexican orange blossomChoisya ternata KunthRutaceae10cultivated
English grapefruitCitrus ×paradisi Macfad.Rutaceae10cultivated
TangeloCitrus ×tangelo J.W.Ingram & H.E.MooreRutaceae10cultivated
Tahiti limeCitrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) SwingleRutaceae10cultivated
New Zealand grapefruitCitrus grandis × reticulataRutaceae10cultivated
LemonCitrus limon (L.) Burm.f.Rutaceae9naturalised
Clementine, Mandarin, TangerineCitrus reticulata BlancoRutaceae10naturalised
Sweet orange, Navel orangeCitrus sinensis (L.) OsbeckRutaceae10naturalised
CitrusCitrus sp.Rutaceae7unknown
Cigar flower, Firecracker plant, Pua kikaCuphea ignea A.DC.Lythraceae10cultivated
Dragon treeDracaena draco (L.) L.Asparagaceae10naturalised
Grass treeDracophyllum sp.Ericaceae7unknown
Eugenia sp.Myrtaceae7unknown
Japanese spindle treeEuonymus japonicus Thunb.Celastraceae10naturalised
Cape jasmine, GardeniaGardenia sp.Rubiaceae7cultivated
Australian frangipani, Sweetshade, Wing-seed treeHymenosporum flavum (Hook.) F.Muell.Pittosporaceae10naturalised
Giant tea tree, Shiny tea treeLeptospermum nitidum Hook. F.Myrtaceae10overseas
Oleander, Rose-bayNerium oleander L.Apocynaceae10naturalised
Lemonwood, Kīhihi, TarataPittosporum eugenioides A.Cunn.Pittosporaceae10endemic
Pittosporum lineare Laing & GourlayPittosporaceae10endemic
Black matipo, Kaikaro, Kōhūhū, Kohukohu, Koihu, Kōwhiwhi, Māpauriki, Pōhiri, Pōwhiri, Rautāwhiri, TāwhiriPittosporum tenuifolium Sol. ex Gaertn.Pittosporaceae10endemic
Pseudopanax discolor (Kirk) HarmsAraliaceae10endemic
Coastal five finger, Houmāpara, Houpara, Houparapara, Kokotai, Oho, Parapara, WhauwhauPseudopanax lessonii (DC.) K. KochAraliaceae10endemic
Brush cherrySyzygium australe (Link) B.HylandMyrtaceae10naturalised
Weeping myrtleSyzygium floribundum F.Muell.Myrtaceae10naturalised
Lilly pilly, Monkey apple, White monkey appleSyzygium smithii (Poir.) Nied.Myrtaceae10naturalised
  • Adult female Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Adult female Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Third instar nymphs and adult female Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Third instar nymphs and adult female Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Adult female Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Young nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on leaves and a young stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Young nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on leaves and a young stem of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Third instar nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Third instar nymphs of Soft wax scales, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Syzygium sp. (Myrtaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
  • Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae): note the forward pointing ‘horn’ of white wax. Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Gardenia, Gardenia sp. (Rubiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Gardenia, Gardenia sp. (Rubiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Honeydew Feeding

The adult females and nymphs of Soft wax scale insert their stylets into the phloem, the plant vessels for transmitting sap from the leaves to other parts of the plant. The sap has a high volume of water and sugars, more than the insect needs. It excretes the excess water and sugar, which is called honeydew. Sooty moulds may grow on the honeydew.

Worker ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) have been found associated with Soft wax scale and are assumed to have been feeding on honeydew.

  • Two worker ants (Formicidae: Hymenoptera) feeding on honeydew produced by Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) living on Gardenia, Gardenia sp. (Rubiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
    Two worker ants (Formicidae: Hymenoptera) feeding on honeydew produced by Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) living on Gardenia, Gardenia sp. (Rubiaceae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Nicholas A. Martin
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Information Sources

Hodgson CJ, Henderson RC. 2000. Coccidae (Insecta: Hemiptera: Coccoidea). Fauna of New Zealand. 41: 1-264.

Plant-SyNZ: Invertebrate herbivore-host plant association database. plant-synz.landcareresearch.co.nz/

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Acknowledgements

The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited (Plant & Food Research) for permission to use photographs.

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Other Images

  • Two white third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae) with brown adult female Soft brown scale, Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus, 1758 (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    Two white third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae) with brown adult female Soft brown scale, Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus, 1758 (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae) with a brown adult female Soft brown scale, Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus, 1758 (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae) with a brown adult female Soft brown scale, Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus, 1758 (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
  • White third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae) with a juvenile (left) brown Soft brown scale, Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus, 1758 (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
    White third instar (stage) nymphs of Soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor (Hemiptera: Coccidae) on stems of Tahiti lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Rutaceae) with a juvenile (left) brown Soft brown scale, Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus, 1758 (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Image: Nicholas A. Martin © Plant & Food Research
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Suggested Citation

Martin NA. 2018. Soft wax scale - Ceroplastes destructor. Interesting Insects and other Invertebrates. New Zealand Arthropod Factsheet Series Number 151. http://nzacfactsheets.landcareresearch.co.nz/Index.html. Date Accessed. ISSN 1179-643X.

Landcare Research       Plant and Food