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Chinese wax scale - Ceroplastes sinensis

By N A Martin (2018)

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Click to collapse Classification Info






Ceroplastes sinensis Del, Guercio, 1900

Click to collapse Common names Info

Chinese wax scale, Hard wax scale

Click to collapse Biostatus and distribution Info

This adventive scale insect was first reported in New Zealand 1932. It is now found in the northern half of the North Island and Great Island (Three Kings Islands). It has been found on native and plants from other countries and is a major pest of Citrus crops and Feijoa.

Conservation status: Commonly found in gardens, parks and native habitats in the North of the North Island. It is a pest of Citrus and Feijoa trees.

Click to collapse Life stages and annual cycle Info

Adult females are coated with thick, off-white wax that is coloured pinkish brown in patches, and with white `dry' wax in lateral and dorsal depressions. The adult female scales are oval when seen from the top and hemispherical when seen from the side. 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. Four lines of white wax can also been seen on the underside. These mark the channel by which gasses pass between the outside and the stigmata (openings) of the trachea (breathing tubes). At the rear end there is hole through which excess liquid is excreted. Old females lose the pinkish-brown colours and may become grey-white with sooty mould fungus. Females are often clumped together on stems and the shape of individual specimens may become distorted.

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 pink and has a short line of white wax on top and seven rods of white wax protruding round the edge. There is also a small amount of white wax in the anal region.

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.


Nymphs and adult females of Chinese 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. 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.

Click to collapse Recognition Info

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 Chinese wax scale 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.

The Soft wax scale, (Ceroplastes destructor Newstead, 1917), is covered by a thick, white, soft wax that is `wet' to touch. It is 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’. 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.

Click to collapse Natural enemies Info


One pathogen of Chinese wax scale has been recorded in New Zealand. This pathogenic fungus, Cordyceps confragosa used to be called Verticillium lecanii (Zimm.) Viégas.


In New Zealand five species of wasp parasitoids have been reared from Chinese scale.


The two predators of Chinese wax scale in New Zealand are ladybirds both of which come from other countries.

Table: Natural enemies of Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae), from Plant-SyNZ database (19 September 2018). The reliability index shows the quality of evidence for the host association (0-10, 10=high quality).
Scientific NameCommon NameClassificationEnemy TypeReliability IndexBiostatus
Cordyceps confragosa G.H. Sung, J.M. Sung, Hywel-Jones & Spatafora Fungi: Ascomycota: Sordariomycetes: Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceaepathogen10naturalised
Coccidoctonus dubius (Girault, 1915) (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Encyrtidaeparasitoid10adventive
Coccophagus ochraceus Howard, 1895 (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Aphelinidaeparasitoid10adventive
Coccophagus philippiae (Silvestri, 1915) (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Aphelinidaeparasitoid10adventive
Encarsia citrina (Craw, 1891) (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Aphelinidaeparasitoid10adventive
Moranila californica (Howard, 1881) (Wasp)Hymenoptera: Pteromalidaeparasitoid10adventive
Halmus chalybeus (Boisduval, 1835)Steelblue ladybird (Beetle)Coleoptera: Coccinellidaepredator9adventive
Rhyzobius forestieri (Mulsant, 1853)Forestier's ladybird (Beetle)Coleoptera: Coccinellidaepredator10adventive

Click to collapse Host plants Info

Chinese wax scale are found on cultivated, naturalised and 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 Chinese 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 Chinese wax scale may 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 Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis (Hemiptera: Coccidae) from Plant-SyNZ database (19 September 2018). The reliability score shows the quality of evidence for the host association (1-10, 10=high).
Common Name(s)Scientific NameFamilyReliability IndexBiostatus
Austral bracken, Bracken, Bracken fern, Common fern, Manehu, rahurahu, Rārahu, Rarauhe, Rarauhe-mahuika, TākakaPteridium esculentum (G.Forst.) CockayneDennstaedtiaceae10indigenous, non-endemic
Feijoa, Pineapple guavaAcca sellowiana (O.Berg) BurretMyrtaceae10naturalised
Chinese gooseberry, Kiwifruit, Yang-taoActinidia deliciosa (A.Chev.) C.F.Liang & A.R.FergusonActinidiaceae10naturalised
New Zealand ash, Tapitapi, Tītoki, Tītongi, Tokitoki, Tongitongi, TopitopiAlectryon excelsus Gaertn.Sapindaceae10endemic
Mangrove, MānawaAvicennia marina (Forsk.) Vierh. subsp. australasica (Walp.) J.EverettAcanthaceae10indigenous, non-endemic
BarberryBerberis glaucocarpa StapfBerberidaceae10naturalised
Barberry, Oregon grapeBerberis sp.Berberidaceae7unknown
 Berberis thunbergii DC.Berberidaceae8unknown
weeping bottlebrushCallistemon viminalis (Sol. ex Gaertn.) G. DonMyrtaceae10cultivated
Meyer lemon, Chinese dwarf lemonCitrus ×meyeri Yu. TanakaRutaceae10cultivated
TangeloCitrus ×tangelo J.W.Ingram & H.E.MooreRutaceae10cultivated
Tahiti limeCitrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) SwingleRutaceae10cultivated
New Zealand grapefruitCitrus grandis × reticulataRutaceae10cultivated
LemonCitrus limon (L.) Burm.f.Rutaceae10naturalised
Clementine, Mandarin, TangerineCitrus reticulata BlancoRutaceae10naturalised
Sweet orange, Navel orangeCitrus sinensis (L.) OsbeckRutaceae10naturalised
CitrusCitrus sp.Rutaceae7unknown
Satsuma mandarin, SatsumaCitrus unshiu Marcow.Rutaceae10cultivated
Sand coprosma, Tarakupenga, Tātarahake, TātarahekeCoprosma acerosa A. Cunn.Rubiaceae10endemic
Twiggy CoprosmaCoprosma rhamnoides A.Cunn.Rubiaceae10endemic
Glossy karamu, Kākaramū, Kākarangū, Karamū, Kāramuramu, KarangūCoprosma robusta RaoulRubiaceae10endemic
Three Kings cabbage treeCordyline obtecta (Graham) BakerAsparagaceae10indigenous, non-endemic
CorokiaCorokia sp.Argophyllaceae7endemic
Red flowering gum, Scarlet flowering gumCorymbia ficifolia (F.Muell.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.JohnsonMyrtaceae10naturalised
Hawthorn, Neapolitan medlar, White hawthornCrataegus monogyna Jacq.Rosaceae10naturalised
African red alder, Butterknife bushCunonia capensis L.Cunoniaceae10cultivated
Sticky hop-bush, ake, Ake rautangi, AkeakeDodonaea viscosa Jacq. subsp. viscosa Jacq.Sapindaceae10indigenous, non-endemic
Golden dewdropDuranta erectaVerbenaceae10cultivated
Hauama, Houama, Whau, Whauama, WhaumaEntelea arborescens R.Br.Malvaceae10endemic
Red escalloniaEscallonia rubra (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers.Escalloniaceae10naturalised
Japanese spindle treeEuonymus japonicus Thunb.Celastraceae10naturalised
Benjamin tree, Java fig, Small-leaved rubber plant, Tropic laurel, Weeping figFicus benjamina L.Moraceae10cultivated
Creeping fuchsia, Trailing fuchsia, Climbing fuchsiaFuchsia procumbens A.Cunn.Onagraceae10endemic
Black beech, Tawhai raurikiFuscospora solandri (Hook.f.) Heenan & SmissenNothofagaceae10endemic
Cape jasmine, GardeniaGardenia sp.Rubiaceae7cultivated
Lacebark, Hohere, Hoihere, Houhere, Houhi, Houhi ongaonga, Houī, Ongaonga, Whauahi, WheuhiHoheria populnea A.CunnMalvaceae10endemic
Australian frangipani, Sweetshade, Wing-seed treeHymenosporum flavum (Hook.) F.Muell.Pittosporaceae10naturalised
Common holly, English holly, HollyIlex aquifolium L.Aquifoliaceae10naturalised
Dwarf mistletoeKorthalsella salicornioides (A. Cunn.) TieghSantalaceae10endemic
Bay, Laurel, Sweet bayLaurus nobilis L.Lauraceae10naturalised
 Lepidozamia peroffskyana RegelZamiaceae10cultivated
Red tea tree, Tea tree, Kahikātoa, Kātoa, Mānuka, Pata, Rauiri, RauwiriLeptospermum scoparium J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Myrtaceae10indigenous, non-endemic
Flamespike, PincushionLeucospermum cordifloium (Knight) Fourc.Proteaceae10cultivated
Mikoikoi, New Zealand iris, Mānga-a-Huripapa, Mikoikoi, Tūkāuki, TūrutuLibertia grandiflora (R.Br.) SweetIridaceae10endemic
New Zealand iris, Mānga-a-Huripapa, Mikoikoi, Tūkāuki, TūrutuLibertia ixioides (G.Forst.) Spreng.Iridaceae10endemic
Litchi, LycheeLitchi chinensis Sonn.Sapindaceae10naturalised
Honeysuckle, WoodbineLonicera sp.Caprifoliaceae7unknown
New Zealand myrtle, RamaramaLophomyrtus bullata BurretMyrtaceae10endemic
Brushbox, Vinegar tree, Brisbane boxLophostemon confertus (R.Br.) Peter G.Wilson & J.T.Waterh.Myrtaceae10cultivated
Apple, Crab-appleMalus ×domestica Borkh.Rosaceae10naturalised
Chilean mayten, maiten, MaytenMaytenus boaria MolinaCelastraceae10naturalised
 Melaleuca hypericifolia Sm.Myrtaceae10naturalised
Poataniwha, TātakaMelicope simplex A.Cunn.Rutaceae10endemic
Houkūmara, Koheriki, Tākaka, Tātaka, Wharangi, WharangipiroMelicope ternata J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Rutaceae10endemic
Whiteywood, Hinahina, Inaina, Inihina, Māhoe, Moeahu, KaiwetaMelicytus ramiflorus J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.Violaceae9indigenous, non-endemic
 Metrosideros collina A.GrayMyrtaceae10naturalised
New Zealand Christmas tree, Hutukawa, Kahika, Pohutukawa, Pōhutukawa, RātāMetrosideros excelsa Sol. ex Gaertn.Myrtaceae9endemic
Australian ngaio, Boobialla, Tasmanian ngaioMyoporum insulare R.Br.Scrophulariaceae9naturalised
NgaioMyoporum laetum G.Forst.Scrophulariaceae10endemic
Red mapou, Red matipo, Māpau, Māpou, Mataira, Matipou, Takapou, Tāpau, TīpauMyrsine australis (A.Rich.) AllanPrimulaceae10endemic
SatinwoodNematolepis squamea (Labill.) Paul G.WilsonRutaceae10cultivated
TanguruOlearia albida (Hook.f.) Hook.f.Compositae10endemic
Akepiro, Kūmara-kai-torouka, Tanguru, Wharangi-piroOlearia furfuracea (A.Rich.) Hook.f.Compositae10endemic
Golden akeake, Akepiro, AkirahoOlearia paniculata (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) DruceCompositae10endemic
Akewharangi, Heketara, Ngungu, Taraheke, Tātaraheke, Wharangi-piroOlearia rani (A. Cunn.) DruceCompositae10endemic
AvocadoPersea americana Mill.Lauraceae10naturalised
Lancewood, Hoheka, Horoeka, Koeka, Kokoeka, OhoekaPseudopanax crassifolius (Sol. ex A.Cunn.) K.KochAraliaceae10endemic
Alpine pepper tree, Mountain horopito, Pepper tree, Red horopito, Horopito, ōramarama, RamaramaPseudowintera colorata (Raoul) DandyWinteraceae10endemic
PomegranatePunica granatum L.Lythraceae10cultivated
Haumakāroa, Haumakōroa, Haumangōroa, KaiwiriaRaukaua simplex (G.Forst.) A.D.Mitch., Frodin & HeadsAraliaceae10endemic
Sexton's brideRhaphiolepis umbellata (Thunb.) MakinoRosaceae10naturalised
RoseRosa sp. 'cultivated'Rosaceae7cultivated
Brazilian pepper tree, Broadleaf pepper tree, Christmas berrySchinus terebinthifolius RaddiAnacardiaceae10cultivated
Bullibul, Bullibulli, Kangaroo apple, Pōpopo, Poroporo, PoroporotanguruSolanum aviculare G.Forst.Solanaceae10indigenous, non-endemic
 Spiraea thunbergii Siebold ex BlumeRosaceae10cultivated
Three Kings milk tree, Smith's milkwoodStreblus smithii (Cheeseman) CornerMoraceae10endemic
Brush cherrySyzygium australe (Link) B.HylandMyrtaceae10naturalised
 Tecomanthe speciosa W.R.B.Oliv.Bignoniaceae10endemic
Tree germanderTeucrium fruticans L.Labiatae10cultivated
 Thunbergia sp.Acanthaceae7naturalised
Kanooka, Water gumTristaniopsis laurina (Sm.) Peter G.Wilson & J.T.Waterh.Myrtaceae10naturalised
 Vaccinium sp.Ericaceae7unknown
HebeVeronica stricta Banks & Sol. ex Benth. var. strictaPlantaginaceae10endemic
Blue periwinkle, Greater periwinkle, PeriwinkleVinca major L.Apocynaceae10naturalised
New Zealand oak, Kauere, PūririVitex lucens KirkLabiatae10endemic
GrapeVitis vinifera L.Vitaceae10naturalised

Click to collapse Honeydew feeding Info

The adult females and nymphs of Chinese 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.

Four species of ant have been recorded feeding on Chinese wax scale honeydew.

Click to collapse Information sources Info

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

Plant-SyNZ: Invertebrate herbivore-host plant association database.

Click to collapse Acknowledgements Info

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

Click to collapse Other images Info

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