White scale, caused by Parlatoria blanchardi is widely present in most date palm growing areas of the world except in the USA, where it was eradicated in 1936, and in some countries of the southern hemisphere (Namibia and RSA). It is considered a serious pest in Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan consider this pest a moderate one, while Egypt, Jordan, UAE, and Yemen consider it a minor pest. Damage by white scale is severe on young palms between two to eight years of age, but the palm and its offshoots do not die even under severe attacks.
Red scale, Phoenicococcus marlatti (Cockerell), is exclusively a pest of palms, particularly date palms, with other palms as host plants (e.g., Doupalm, Canary Island palm, and the California fan palm). It is probably found wherever the date palm is cultivated, but with no significant threat (Dowson, 1982). The extent of its damage is known to be less than that caused by the Parlatoria scale. Leaves of the date palm are often clotted over with thin, minute, greyish scales with darker centers. The darker spot is oval in outline and is the body of the insect itself. The individual scale is seldom larger than a small pinhead, roundish in shape, and deep pink to dark red, but partly or entirely covered with a white waxy secretion that forms a cottony mass (Nixon and Carpenter, 1978).
Bou Faroua, also called Goubar or Old World date mite, is caused by Oligonychus afrasiaticus McGregor, and O. pratensis Banks. This mite is present in all date growing areas, and the damage is severe in neglected plantations. Immediately after the fruit set (Hababouk stage), mite eggs are deposited to produce larvae which will feed on the fruits and later cover these with a web retaining sand particles. The cycle length is about ten to fifteen days, depending on temperature. Mites will rapidly multiply causing the drop-off of the fruits. Affected mature fruits are of no commercial value.
Caroub moth also called "Ver de la Datte" in French, is caused by Ectomyelois ceratoniae Zeller, and is found in all date growing areas. The larva of the Caroub moth attacks dates in plantations, packing houses, and stores. Eggs are laid on the dates, and hatching begins four days later. The larval period is about three weeks in warm months and eight weeks in colder months. The pupal period is about five days. Considering the moth's life cycle, it is recommended to protect the fruit bunches, clean the plantation from wind-fallen fruits, and fumigate harvested and stored dates. The use of pheromone traps will help determine the emergence of moths and estimate the population level. In addition, the rate of infestation could be lowered by spraying the infested fruits with Bacillus thuringiensis (Djerbi, 1994).
Chapter XII: Diseases and Pests of Date Palm