Controlling Scale Insects

May 20th, 2019

Many people don’t realize the tiny bumps commonly found on the plant leaves and stems around their home are actually living organisms sucking the life out of their hosts. However, those with experience under their belt are quite aware of those organisms and the risks they pose. Scale insects can ruin your garden and landscaping.

Scale insects are a diverse group of sap-feeding pests with over 180 species in Florida. There are several families of scale insects. Generally, they can be divided into two main groups: armored and soft. Distinguishing between the two is important, because it will affect how efficient and effective you are at controlling them.

Armored scale insects feed on the contents of cells just under the surface of leaves and bark, and excrete their waste in the form of a protective waxy cover. This cover can be removed to reveal the soft-bodied insect feeding beneath. Once female armored scales begin to feed on a host plant, they will remain immobile in that location for the remainder of their life. Even after death, the scale insect cover may remain on the plant for several years.

Soft scale insects differ from armored scales in a few important ways. The waxy cover of soft scales is not separate from the insect’s body and cannot be removed. Although both are sedentary, unlike armored scales, female soft scales may be mobile in every life stage until they begin to produce eggs. In addition, soft scales feed on the phloem vascular tissue of plants, excrete honeydew as waste, and are associated with black sooty mold fungus.

If you are seeing scale insects on your trees, shrubs, or plants, it is important to address the problem quickly. Once scale insects begin to multiply and attach to your plants, it can be very difficult to cure your garden or landscaping of their plight. For more information or to get started with pest control today, contact us for more information.