Common name

Palm scales or phoenicococcids

Field characters

Body small, about 1.5 mm long, spherical, red or reddish brown, embedded or nested in white wax; often rubbed, exposing red color of body. Occurring on white tissues at base of fronds, occasionally on exposed roots and fronds.

Validation characters

Body margin with series of dermal papillae; 8-shaped tubular ducts present; anal ring without pores, with setae; legs absent; spiracles with bar and no associated sclerotized area; antennae with 1 segment.


The single species (Phoenicococcus marlatti Cockerell) currently placed in the Phoenicococcidae, historically has been included in an array of families including the Halimococcidae, Diaspididae, and Asterolecaniidae. Unfortunately, no single character or suite of characters can be used to diagnose the Phoenicococcidae and it is likely when molecular techniques are used to study these groups that the phoenicococcids will be incorporated into another family. Phoenicococcidae Stickney was first treated as a family by Balachowsky (1942).


Palm scales occur in the Nearctic, Neotropical, Oriental, and Palaearctic zoogeographic regions and are most likely native to north Africa.


The species is restricted to palms, primarily of the genus Phoenix, but it can maintain itself on certain other palm genera.

Life history

Date scales have 3 instars in the female and 5 in the male. Many overlapping generations occur with all instars present at any time during the year. In warm months, development requires about 60 days but a generation is considerably longer at cooler times of the year.

Important references

Borden 1921; Brown and McKenzie 1962; Gill 1993, Stickney 1934, 1950.


Click here for a check list of all phoenicococcid genera and species.