What is Giant pine scale?
Giant pine scale (Marchalina hellenica) is a tiny pest insect found on the trunk and branches of pine, fir and spruce trees. Living in large numbers, it sucks sap from the host tree, eventually killing it.
The insects spread by crawling between host trees or moving within infected plant material (such as pinecones, mulch and branches), gardening equipment and machinery. They also stick to the feet of feeding birds, who then unwittingly transport them to a new host tree.
Giant pine scale produces a distinctive white, cotton-like wax secretion, making infected trees easy to spot.
A localised outbreak of Giant pine scale has recently been detected on public land in metropolitan Adelaide. This pest was last detected in Adelaide’s north-east in 2018.
Why is it a threat?
Giant pine scale threatens the health of the trees it lives on, posing a very serious threat to South Australia’s forest industry.
The sector supports many regional communities and economies, supplying 21,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Our industry is helping to build the nation by producing:
- 35% of Australia’s housing timber
- 25% of the nation’s particleboard
- 48% of the nation’s fibre for packaging
- 60% of Australia’s agricultural timbers
- 90% of the potting mix used in South Australia
- Storing 4.64 million tonnes of CO2e annually
How is ForestrySA helping to stop the spread?
While there is no known Giant pine scale infestation on ForestrySA land, we are committed to working collaboratively with State and local Government agencies and stakeholders to identify and eliminate local outbreaks.
Infestation eradication can only be achieved by destroying the host tree and establishing a quarantine zone around it and any remaining residue material.
Effective risk management requires on-going surveillance, early detection and timely tree destruction.
How can I help?
We encourage all forest visitors and private landowners to help stop the spread of Giant pine scale in South Australia.
If you discover a tree you suspect is infected with Giant pine scale, call PIRSA’s Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 immediately.
Images courtesy of PIRSA.