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- Scale Insects
- Garden pests - Scale insects
Various stages of soft scales attended by ants. Scale insects are a large and diverse group about 8, described species in the superfamily Coccoidea of the order Hemiptera, closely related to aphids and whiteflies, but they look quite different from your typical insect the mealybugs are part of this superfamily, too, but are not included in this article.
This covering which protects the insect underneath it may be a flattened oval, dome-shaped, oyster shell-shaped, resemble small mussels, or have a fluffy coating. A gnat-like male scale Dactylopius sp.
Some species are hemaphroditic while others reproduce by parthenogenesis. Females lay eggs under their bodies which hatch into the first instars, called crawlers, which do have legs and are mobile.
Cottony cushion scales infesting a citrus tree. Usually smaller than a pinhead, in general they move around searching for a favorable spot to settle down to feed and begin producing their distinctive scale coverings but in some species they are moved by wind to settle on other plants.
When they molt to the next instar almost all female scales lose their legs and are sedentary as adults; only a few species have the ability to move after the crawler stage. Yellowish coffee green scales produce a sweet, sticky liquid called honeydew. The substance is a food source for this black sooty mold fungus on these gardenia leaves. Scale insects feed on a wide range of host plants and are common pests of many indoor and outdoor herbaceous ornamental plants as well as many trees and shrubs.
Most species are restricted to particular host plants or plant groups, and some are serious crop pests. They feed by sucking plant sap through their long, needle-like mouthparts six to eight times longer than the insect itself! Many also excrete sticky honeydew which supports the growth of sooty mold.
Sooty mold is a black-colored fungus; when it coats the top side of leaves, that interferes with photosynthesis and makes the plants unattractive and yellow. Cochineal scales Dactylopius spp. In addition, several species of Dactylopius are used as biological control agents against invasive species of Opuntia cactus. A cochineal farm on Tenerife, Canary Islands L , colonies of cochineal scales on a cactus pad LC , closeup of cochineal scales C and RC and desiccated females without the protective white wax R.
There are two types of scales: the soft scales and the armored scales. The protective cover of the calico scale Eulecanium cerasorum , an invasive species, is readily apparent.
ARS image K by R. The soft scales Family Coccidae are the more important of the two groups of scales found on indoor plants. Immature scales start out light in color and darken at maturity.
Many resemble miniature tortoise shells. The eggs hatch in 1 to 3 weeks. The pale, newly hatched nymphs are the mobile crawler stage but after finding a suitable part of the plant they settle down for the remainder of their lives. The nymphs go through three instars. A waxy scale covering is produced over the female after she becomes an adult. The waxy scale covering adheres tightly to the body of the female and cannot be separated from it. They generally overwinter as immature, fertilized females.
Brown soft scale on the underside of cycad leaves. Soft scales are usually found on the undersides of leaves and stems, although some species may occur on upper leaf surfaces. A heavy infestation will cause yellowed leaves, distorted foliage especially at the growing tips, twig dieback, or defoliation. However, soft scales can be a nuisance long before there are any visible symptoms.
Copious amounts of honeydew excreted by the scales will make the plants and everything around or under them sticky and attracts ants, bees, wasps, and flies. A dark fungus called black sooty mold grows on sweet honeydew, blackening anything where the honeydew is deposited. Some species of soft scales commonly found in the Midwest include:.
San Jose scale on stem. The armored scales Family Diaspididae get their name from the hard, waxy covering over the body. The scales vary in shape from circular to elongate elliptical or oystershell-like and in texture from smooth to rough, and are variously colored. Underneath a hard cover made of wax and protein is a yellow or orange soft body.
The crawlers move to another part of the plant and settle for the remainder of their life. A waxy cover that incorporates the shed skin of the crawler and subsequent stages is produced over the immature insect. Female scales lose their legs and antennae during the first molt. The legless adult female remains under the scale. They usually overwinter as eggs under the hard shell of their mother.
Armored scales are generally found on lower leaf surfaces and stems, often forming thick crusts. Plant injury caused by armored scale feeding is similar to that of soft scales but they tend to have a greater impact on their host than soft scales do. Toxins injected while feeding on leaf tissue kills cells around the feeding site, causing a yellow or brown halo, and heavy feeding can disrupt nutrient flow enough to cause in premature leaf drop or branches to die.
No honeydew is produced, however, so sooty mold is not a problem. White male euonymus scales on pachysandra. Outdoors they can be significant problems on ornamental plants. Some species of armored scales common in the Midwest include:.
Encarsia perniciosi , a parasitoid of California red scale Aonidiella aurantii and San Jose scale Quadraspidiotus perniciosus. Weather and natural enemies, such as lady beetles and parasitic wasps, usually keep scale insects below damaging levels but if scale numbers become abundant management mat be required.
Controlling scales can be a difficult challenge. Since scales can occur on all plant parts, check every part of the plant. Thoroughly washing the leaves with a mild detergent solution being careful to avoid wetting the soil may also work. This will also wash off honeydew and dislodge crawlers. Inspect the plants closely at weekly intervals, and repeat the procedure as necessary probably several times. If a plant is heavily infested, disposing of it may be the best solution, although that may not be an option for a valuable or cherished plant.
Scales can be managed by mechanical and chemical controls. Chemical control is often the most effective way to combat scale problems, especially in the landscape. Adult scales, however, are protected from insecticides by their waxy coverings, so chemical control measures should be aimed at unprotected immatures crawlers.
Accurate identification of the scale species is important in order to know when scale crawlers should be active and treatments should be applied. Crawlers may be detected by placing double-sticky tape on plant branches. Spot treatments should be applied when scales are present.
Applications of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will kill scales but require thorough coverage and usually at least three treatments to control an infestation. Repeat every six to seven days until scales have been eradicated. Synthetic insecticides labeled for scale control may require fewer applications but some treatments can cause plant damage, so sprays should be tested first on a small part of the plant and all label directions should be followed.
Systemic insecticides applied to the soil help suppress populations but do not eliminate the problem. Applications on larger woody plants can even give unsatisfactory control due to unequal movement of the systemic material in the plant.
Horticultural oils, that suffocate the insects, may be effective against some adult scales. Dormant oils need to be applied in early spring before leaves appear to kill the overwintering stage of some species. Dead scales do not fall from plants, so it will be necessary to examine plants to determine whether the scales are dead or alive. When crushed, a dead scale will be dry but if the body is juicy or leaves a streak when smeared on a piece of paper it was alive.
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Connect with your County Extension Office ». Find an Extension employee in our staff directory ». Facebook Twitter. Feedback, questions or accessibility issues: info extension. Skip to content Search for:. It may be mottled shiny pale brown, yellow, or grey with dark brown grid-like mottling. It attacks a wide variety of hosts and is one of the most common species on houseplants, seeming to prefer perennials over annuals. It is common on gardenia, fern, camellia, oleander, and fig.
Female cottony maple scale on maple branch. Severely infested trees look like they are covered with a string of popcorn. European elm scale Gossyparia spuria females are a reddish-purple oval surrounded by a white, cottony fringe, while males form visible white cocoons early in spring and turn into reddish adults in mid- to late spring.
The crawlers settle along the midrib or along other veins on the underside of leaves where they feed for the summer. They move to a stem or trunk crevice to overwinter, often resembling small mealy bugs since they covered in short, white, waxy filaments. There is one generation per year on all native elms species. Fletcher scale. Pachysandra and Eastern red cedar are also susceptible.
Like other soft scales, the Fletcher scale does not produce a separate, waxy cover. Instead it secretes a thin, transparent film, which does not totally cover the insect. The amber to reddish-brown nymph overwinters on a branch. The following spring, it feeds heavily as it grows into an adult.
The citrus leafminer, Phyllocnistis citrella, was first documented in Dade County, Florida, in and has since spread to Georgia and states along the Gulf of Mexico. Leafminer damage to foliage can stunt the growth of young trees and make trees more susceptible to citrus canker where the pathogen is present. Mature trees can better tolerate the damage although heavy infestations may reduce production. Adult citrus leafminers Figure 1 are small, silvery moths with a wingspan of 4 millimeters. The wings have several black and tan spots with a small black dot on the wingtips. The adults are seldom seen and are active in the mornings and evenings. Female moths lay eggs singly on the underside of new foliage.
Citrus canker is a highly contagious bacterial infection of citrus trees To effectively control scale insects and limit damage, Horticultural Oil should.
Horticultural oils are petroleum-based or vegetable-based pesticide oils which are used to control insects and mites. To allow them to mix with water, horticultural oils also contain emulsifiers, soap-like substances which break up the oil into tiny droplets, allowing them to evenly disperse through the water, forming what us called an emulsion basically oil mixed in water. The use of oils to control pests is not a new technology by any means. Before the era of fossil fuels and petroleum refinement, natural oils were historically used to control pests, and with industrialisation, there was a shift towards synthetic petroleum-based oils. The early petroleum-based oils were called dormant oils , because they were heavy, unrefined oils which contained substances that were toxic to plants and damaged their leaves, and could therefore only be used on dormant deciduous plants and trees which have dropped their leaves. Manufacturers eventually refined the petroleum-based oils to remove toxic impurities, such as compounds containing sulphur, nitrogen or oxygen and aromatic compounds. By the additional processes of filtration, distillation and dewaxing, manufacturers were able to produce the very light and highly purified petroleum-based horticultural oils available today, which can be used in all seasons of the year and do not cause leaf burn. Traditionally horticultural oils were developed for hard-to-control pests on fruit trees that overwintered in crevices in the bark while the trees were dormant, such as mites, scale, aphids, mealybugs and the eggs of some caterpillars. Modern horticultural oils can be used all year round and are effective in controlling scale, aphids, two-spotted mite, mealybug, whitefly and citrus leafminer. They can possibly be used on plant bugs, lace bugs and some caterpillars.
Here are some tips from our nursery manager on how best to take care of your citrus plants for the best results. For a handy PDF guide to print out and keep please click here. Indoor: Southern-facing window for maximum light during winter months. When bringing your plant in for the winter, it may benefit you to spray with a horticultural oil to eliminate potential problems.
Most citrus varieties are self-fertile, so only one tree is needed for fruit production.
With the emphasis these days on environmental and health issues, gardeners are searching for ways to grow healthy crops while still protecting the fragile ecosystems in their own back yards. Those goals may seem to conflict when insects or other pests invade the garden. There are times when the gardener may resort to pesticides to control a pest invasion, but there are also many non-chemical alternatives. Some of those alternatives are in a category known as mechanical or physical controls. Mechanical controls are usually more practical for small gardens, and they can be effectively used singly or in combinations.
Australian House and Garden. As you anticipate the joy of plucking that homegrown lemon , it's disappointing to discover your tree has more yellow leaves than yellow lemons. What's going on? Here are the main reasons lemons develop yellow leaves and how to keep them green and lush. Keep in mind older leaves may not return to green after applying these remedies but new growth should be green and healthy and the yellow leaves will fall. Much like teenagers, lemons burn through lots of nutrients.
Mortality of green scales on potted gardenia plants averaged 95, 89, and 88% on plants sprayed with limonene, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil.
Citrus are one of the best types of trees to have in your garden! In most regions of Australia they grow well in the ground. They also grow well in pots with regular deep watering and fertilising. So, how can you protect and care for your citrus plants to give them the best chance at bearing delicious fruit?
Learning Center. Dormant oil refers more to when the oil has traditionally been applied rather than what it is made of. Newer dormant oil formulations are typically refined from petroleum oil, such as mineral oil. Unlike home remedies, they also contain an emulsifier to help water mix with the oil, which will provide more complete coverage of plant surfaces. Dormant oil may also be labeled as horticultural, superior or all-seasons oil; keep reading for more on this. The oil covers leaf and limb surfaces, suffocating insects and some insect eggs, which reduces harmful insect populations.
Two-spotted mite Tetranychus urticae affects ornamentals, fruit trees and some vegetables. Affected leaves have a mottled appearance or can be bronzed or shrivelled.
Make a donation. Adult scale insects are usually covered in waxy shell-like cover. There are more than 25 species of scale insect found in British Gardens. Each species has a different host range and life cycle. They feed by sucking sap and some can weaken host plants, many excrete a sticky substance honeydew , which allows the growth of sooty moulds. There many different species of scale insects that can suck the sap from garden and glasshouse plants in Britain.