Giant pine scale
Giant pine scale (Marchalina hellenica) is a scale insect that lives by sucking the sap of pine, fir and spruce trees.
This insect was recorded in Australia for the first time in late 2014, in metropolitan Melbourne and in Adelaide.
Trees impacted by large populations of giant pine scale suffer severe dehydration and dieback of branches, and can eventually die.
Plantation foresters, arborists and the general public are encouraged to report any suspected detections of giant pine scale to the Department of Economic Development.
The department is conducting a program to protect Australia's $1 billion softwood plantation industry, and to help maintain the health and safety of host trees.
In late 2015 giant pine scale was detected outside of the Restricted Area near Tyabb, south-east of Melbourne. Further surveying work has commenced to assess the presence of the scale in this area.
The current Restricted Area includes suburbs within the municipalities of Monash, Casey, Yarra Ranges, Maroondah, Cardinia, Knoxfield, Stonnington, Glen Eira, Booroondara, Kingston, Whitehorse, Greater Dandenong and Bayside. Prior to the latest detection near Tyabb, giant pine scale had only been found in these areas in Victoria.
An interactive web-based application has been developed for property owners and industry to determine whether they are located within a declared restricted area. All you need to do is enter your address and the map will tell you whether there are restrictions in place.
Enter your full street address in the box below and then click the 'Am I Affected?' button.
If your address is displayed within a red, shaded area, you are in the restricted area.
If your address lies within a non-shaded area, you are not in the restricted area.
Note that for movements of host material out of the restricted area, permits may be required. Please see restricted area information below regarding permit requirements.
To view the full Government gazette order regarding the restricted area including the corrigendum dated April 9, 2015, please refer to the following links:
What is a restricted area?
Declaration of a restricted area means that giant pine scale host material must notbe removed from the area without a permit,
- host plants include pines, firs and spruces,
- host material includes plant roots and leaves, mulch, woodchip, soil or any equipment that has been in contact with a host plant or host material,
- Removal, pruning or destruction of giant pine scale host material within the restricted area is prohibited unless a permit has been issued by an authorised DEDJTR inspector
If you require a permit please contact the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources via the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 (toll-free).
Survey and treatment
Sampling teams, and people undertaking control work wear protective suits to minimise the risk of spreading the pest - the suits are discarded before they move to the next property. Other hygiene procedures are also used to minimise the risk of spread. Survey teams are not required to wear disposable suits because they do not come into contact with host trees and their immediate surroundings.
Staff conducting property visits will carry official identification and will only need to view garden areas. Residents may contact the customer service centre to confirm an officers identity.
Please refer to the map above for municipalities and suburbs included in the restricted area.
The majority of infested trees will be safely treated using an insecticide stem injection, which is highly suitable for urban areas. In some locations where chemical treatment is not feasible, trees may need to be removed.
There will be no cost to landholders for treatment or removal of infested trees as part of this program.
Figure 1. Team member undertaking an insecticide stem injection.
What does giant pine scale look like?
Giant pine scale produces a distinctive white, cotton-like wax secretion (Figures 1-3). The adult scale insect can be up to 12 millimetres in length.
The insect prefers the lower part of the tree and mainly occurs on the trunk, but it may also be found on branches well up in the canopy, and even on exposed roots.
In addition, look out for the black sooty mould which may grow on the large amounts of honeydew produced by the insects as they feed on plant sap.
Figure 2. Giant pine scale on the lower trunk of a pine tree (left) and on pine branches (right), both showing the typical white wax secreted by the insect
Figure 3. Giant pine scale adult, showing its white wax secretion (image courtesy of Andrea Battisti, Universita di Padova, Bugwood.org)
Figure 4. Giant pine scale eggs on Pinus radiata
How does it spread?
Giant pine scale moves slowly. Females do not have wings and the winged males are rarely seen. Infestations where trees are close together may be of higher risk, as the insect can more easily move from tree to tree.
However, giant pine scale can also spread with human assistance. If you are working with host trees, it is important to make sure you minimise the risk of spreading the pest.
What is the impact of giant pine scale?
As this insect is new to Australia the potential impacts of the insect on pine trees are unknown. Reports from Europe indicate that large populations of giant pine scale can cause severe dehydration and dieback of branches. In some cases, this is followed by tree death.
So far, pine death has been observed mainly in southern Greece and Crete.
The pest has also caused defoliation of Pinus species in parts of Italy and Turkey, with a significant impact in urban and forest environments.
What trees does it affect?
In Melbourne and Adelaide, giant pine scale has been found on the following pine species:
- Pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine)
- Pinus radiata (Monterey pine)
- Pinus pinea (stone pine)
However, overseas, giant pine scale has also been recorded on the following species:
|Pinus brutia||P. sylvestris|
|P. kochiana||P. laricio tauricus|
|P. nigra salzmannii||P. sosnowskyi|
|Abies cephalonica||A. nordmenniana|
|Picea engelmanni||P. orientalis|
Which trees are not affected?
Trees which may look similar to pines, spruces and firs, but are not hosts of giant pine scale, include cypresses and Araucaria, Allocasuarina, Casuarina and Callitrisspecies.
If giant pine scale is found in your garden, we will discuss treatment options with you to eradicate the pest.
A simple insecticide stem injection will be used, as foliage spraying in urban landscapes is inappropriate. This is a free service, with no costs incurred by the resident.
Mechanical controls, such as tree removal, may be used in exceptional circumstances if insecticide use is not feasible.
How you can help
Gardeners can be real help in detecting giant pine scale.
Before leaving a host tree location, check your clothing, machinery and tools for signs of the pest.
Do not remove any pine, fir or spruce trees or mulch from your property without first contacting the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources via the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 (toll-free).
Report any white, waxy secretions you see on the trunks of pine, fir or spruce trees. In addition to calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 (toll-free), you can email photos of the suspected pest, along with your name, telephone number and address, to email@example.com.