Scale are tiny parasitic insects, I know it may sound and look a lot like plant disease but it’s not. They adhere to the branches and stems and feed off the plant’s sap. This insect looks like bumps, and they can easily be mistaken for a plant disease. However, it is essential to know the difference so you can treat the problem.
Scales insect are over 7,000 species, and there is a 50% chance that you will encounter this parasite in your garden. They are very great in shapes, color and size. They are mostly round but not always.
Their colors can vary from white, orange, black, and even colors that blend in with the plant’s coloring, making them so difficult to detect. Their size range from 1/16-1/8 inch. You can never see a single scale; this makes them easy to identify. This parasite insects are divided into two groups; which are the hard and soft scale.
The delicate scale has a protective waxy substance and is easier to kill them unlike the hard scale (also known as armored scale). The armored scale has a hard shell that protect them against predators. With these few steps, you can get rid of scales from your garden.
Take scales off: It doesn’t matter if your plants are inside or outside, scales can attack them. You sometimes don’t notice these insects at the store or greenhouse where you purchase the plants, and they later flourish on the plant after you brought the plants home. You can remove scale insect by using any old toothbrush, a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, thumbnail or even rubbing them off.
Use insecticidal soap: You can use insecticide soap, to spray on your plants to kill scales. Mix 5 -6 tablespoons of insecticidal soap or you can use a mild dish soap into 1 gallon of water (3.8 L). Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the plant; make sure you spray the undersides of the stems and leaves. Repeat this method 4-7 days until scales are gone.
Prune infested part: This method is advisable if the case is severe; when the infestation is severe, use loppers or sharp pruners to cut off branches and leaves which has high concentrations of the insects. Be sure to wash or use a garden hose to spray the loopers or pruners you just used, before applying them on other plants so you don’t transfer any scale insect that may be left on the tools.
Use horticultural oil: Most people call this dormant oil or summer oil. To kill any scale insects, spray the oil on the tops and bottoms of the leaves and also the stems. There are different types of this oil on the market, and luckily for you, all are equally good. They are mostly mixed at a rate of two to four teaspoon per gallon of water, it varies. Or you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Lastly, hiring a professional pest control company around Charlotte NC will help you get rid of scales, without destroying your plants.
Photo © Gilles San Martin (CC by SA license)