Scale are tiny, sap-sucking insects that are usually inconspicuous, but their impact on the health of your trees and shrubs can be profound. In this blog post, our soil scientists will explain what scale is, how to identify it, and most importantly, how to remove and prevent it from damaging in your plants.

What is scale?

Scale are small insects that feed on the nutrients of plants by piercing their tissues and extracting sap. Scale insects come in various types, with some preferring to infest stems and trunks, while others make a cozy home on the leaves of your plants.

What does scale look like?

Spotting scale on your plants may seem like finding a needle in a haystack, but with a keen eye, you can detect their presence. Look for small, waxy bumps or scales on the plant's surface. These can vary in color, from brown and black to white and tan, depending on the species. The infestation may resemble a sticky, honeydew-like substance on the leaves, which is a telltale sign of scale activity.

Can these small insects really damage my plants?

Unfortunately, yes. If left untreated, scale can take a toll on the overall health of your plants, leading to their decline and, in severe cases, even causing death. The three most common plants scale targets in our area are:

  • Laurels (especially cherry laurels)
  • Crape Myrtles
  • Euonymus

How do you remove scale?

Removing scale from plants requires a combination of manual and chemical methods. Here’s a few ways to effectively remove scale:

Inspect Your Plants Regularly:
Look for small, waxy bumps or scales on the surface of stems, trunks, and leaves.

Prune Infested Branches:
Use pruning shears to remove heavily infested branches or leaves. Cut a few inches below the affected area to ensure you remove both the adult scales and their eggs.

For smaller infestations, you can physically scrub the scales off using a soft brush or cloth. Mix mild soapy water and gently scrub affected areas to dislodge and remove the scales. Rinse the plant thoroughly afterward.

Horticultural Oils or Insecticidal Soaps:
Apply horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps, following the product instructions carefully. These products smother the scales and disrupt their feeding habits. Make sure to cover all parts of the plant thoroughly, including the undersides of leaves.

Systemic Insecticides:
In severe infestations, you may need to resort to systemic insecticides. These are absorbed by the plant and circulate through its system, targeting scale insects. Consult with a local nursery or garden center for appropriate systemic insecticides and follow the recommended application rates.

Repeat Treatments:
Scale infestations often require repeated treatments to ensure complete eradication. Be persistent and monitor your plants regularly to catch any resurgence of scale early on.

In the intricate dance of nature, scale insects may try to infest your trees & plants, but armed with knowledge and a proactive approach, you can keep these unwanted pests at bay. Regular inspections, prompt removal, and preventive measures will ensure the health and vibrancy of your plants, allowing your lawn to thrive year-round.

Protect Your Plants With A Tree & Shrub Program

Our soil scientists have created an effective program to protect your trees & shrubs all year long. Each season your plants will be treated with a variety of oil treatments, root injections, tailored nutrient applications, and wax coatings.

Show Your Plants Some Love