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Title: Detection and identification of Philephedra tuberculosa on cotton in South Texas

item ESPARZA-DIAZ, GABRIELA - Texas Agrilife Extension
item Armstrong, John
item VILLANUEVA, RAUL - Texas Agrilife Extension

Submitted to: Southwestern Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/29/2011
Publication Date: 12/31/2011
Citation: Esparza-Diaz, G.J., Armstrong, J.S., Villanueva, R.T. 2011. Detection and identification of Philephedra tuberculosa on cotton in South Texas. Southwestern Entomologist. 36(4):465-466.

Interpretive Summary: We discovered an insect with the common name “soft scale” infesting cotton during July of the 2011 cotton growing season in northern Hidalgo, Co. TX. This insect has been discovered on a number of different host plants including horticultural and crop species, from a number of different states, even and within Texas. It has been intercepted on 7 different occasions from the ports of entry on variety of horticultural hosts. However, we report for the first time this insect being found on cultivated cotton. The insect was positively identified by experts in Florida, and is now recognized as a potential pest of cotton in Texas.

Technical Abstract: Philephedra tuberculosa Nakahara & Gill (Hemiptera: Coccidae) is a soft scale that feeds on more than 50 plant species. This soft scales damages plants by removing plant sap and excreting of honeydew, which serves as a growth medium for sooty mold fungi. High scale populations can cause extensive damage to the plants including stem dieback and eventually death. Researchers and plant quarantine experts have found P. tuberculosa from Florida and Texas, all thru ought South America and Haiti. It was reported in Cameron CO TX, in 1998 on ornamental Brazilian pepper. Cotton has also been reported as a host in the French Antilles in the Caribean. However, we observed the soft scale in a commercial cotton field near Edcouch, TX, Hidalgo CO TX (26°17'40'N, 97°57'48'W; elevation 21 m.a.s.l.) on 19 July, 2011 with only few plants that were heavily infested. The cotton was fruiting with both florets (squares) and fully formed cotton bolls. Mature ovisacs from P. tuberculosa were attached to the upper one third of the stems and some fruiting forms, where the crawlers were active and exiting the ovisac. We do not know of the risk of this insect as potential pest of cotton in Texas and other areas of the USA.