Giant pine scale

Giant pine scale (Marchalina hellenica) is a scale insect that sucks the sap of pine trees. If established, the insect poses a threat to Australia’s softwood plantation industry by causing:

  • branch dieback
  • gradual desiccation
  • tree death.

Giant pine scale has been previously detected in Victoria and metropolitan Adelaide.

Giant pine scale has:

  • not been found in other parts of Australia
  • not been detected in any pine plantations.

In Victoria, giant pine scale was found in such large numbers that it could not be effectively controlled and it is no longer possible to eradicate the pest from Australia.

What to look for

Giant Pine Scale produces a distinctive white, cotton-like wax secretion and the adult scale insect can grow up to 12 mm long.

The insect prefers the lower part of the tree and mainly occurs on the trunk, but it may also be found on branches well up in the canopy, and even on exposed roots.

It feeds exclusively on plants from the pine family, such as pines, firs and spruces.

Who to contact for control advice and options

It is expected that infestations will be found in South Australia from time to time. If you find giant pine scale affecting your trees seek advice from a local pest controller or arborist to determine the most suitable control option.

Call the Emergency Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 to advise PIRSA Biosecurity of any detections of Giant Pine Scale.


During December 2019, PIRSA undertook surveillance activities for Giant Pine Scale where the pest was previously detected in North Adelaide, Dernancourt and Highbury, thanks to funding from the Australian Forests Products Association. No new infestations of Giant Pine Scale were found at these sites. Surveillance of high-risk sites across the state will continue in 2020, and be repeated in 2021.

More information

Page Last Reviewed: 10 Dec 2019
Top of page