Palm Leaf Skeletonizer Damage

Symptoms

Symptoms appear on mid-canopy to older leaves as necrotic translucent blotches on the leaflets. Often only the epidermal layers of the leaves remain, hence the name "leaf skeletonizer" (Fig. 1). Typically, dark brown frass tubes will cover some or all of the damaged areas and conceal the insect larvae (Fig. 2).

May be confused with

Nothing can be confused with leaf skeletonizer damage.

Cause

Leaf skeletonizer damage is caused by the feeding of Homoledra sabalella larvae.

Occurrence

Fan palms such as Latania sp., Sabal sp., Washingtonia sp., and others are the preferred hosts. Coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) are also commonly attacked and it is reported on Phoenix canariensis, but it has not reported from any other feather-leaved palm species. This insect is a serious pest in Florida, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands.

Last updated May 2015

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