Pine Tortoise Scale

Pine Tortoise Scale (Binomial name- Toumeyella parvicornis) is an insect characterized by a tortoise-like reddish-brown oval shell. It is about three millimeters long. The insect’s attack pines, especially the younger trees. They are mostly found in Northern America.

Key Points

  • The oval shell of the insects resembles that of a tortoise. This is the reason why they are called pine tortoise scale.
  • The female insects are longer as compared to males, generally, 3 to 4mm. Adult males have wings.
  • The insect sucks the sap from the tree’s needles and its bark, with its syringe-like mouth.
  • It produces sweet excrement, on which thick black mould develops, which covers the tree and blocks the process of photosynthesis.
  • They result in the weakening of the pines and even their deaths.

Pine Tortoise Scale threat to Rome’s umbrella pines

  • As per a study by agronomists, the umbrella pines of Rome are massively invaded by this insect and are in danger of being destructed.
  • More than 5000 pines in the city of Naples, Italy are also found to be attacked by this tiny insect.
  • The insect has also invaded the trees of the Turks and Caicos Islands of the Caribbean region and destroyed 90% of the trees.

What’s the solution?

No proper solution to the problem has been identified yet. One solution can be to inject the pine trees with chemicals. But, this is an expensive process and has shown only 20 to 30 % effectiveness when it was used in Campania. Also, spraying of products on the trees is not feasible because of the public health.

Some scientists also believe that temperatures above 35 degrees Celcius can cause the pine tortoise scales to disperse. So, maybe in summers, the number of insects invading the pines can be affected.

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