Scale insect control
Scale insect control



Several species of soft scales, referred to as Lecanium scales, feed on the sap of shade trees and shrubs. This rounded insect is brown and can range from 1/8 inch to 1/6 inch in size. In many cases it is the signs of the scale infestation that is noticed before the scale itself is detected. Lecanium scale will produce large volumes of a liquid waste called honeydew. The honeydew gives leaves a shiny appearance and will often attract honeybees and wasps. A black fungus called sooty mold will also grow on the honeydew.


Lecanium scale overwinters as a nymph on plant twigs. The insect matures in the spring and females lay eggs in May and June. Each female scale insect is capable of laying 1,000 to 5000 eggs. Egg hatch usually occurs in May or June. The newly hatched scale insects, called crawlers, migrate to the leaves where they feed throughout the summer. In late summer they move back to the twigs where they spend the winter under a thin, waxy shield. There is one generation per year.


Controlling Lecanium scale insects can be challenging and treatments may need to be repeated over several growing seasons. Proper timing is essential to controlling scale insects. Tree spraying will achieve maximum impact if the treatments are applied in June or July. Dormant oil treatments can be applied in late fall and early spring for overwintering nymphs.
Systemic insecticide treatments with Imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Insect Control) can be applied as a soil drench around the base of affected plants. This can be applied anytime during the growing season provided there is adequate soil moisture to allow the plant to absorb and translocate the material.
Proper cultural practices are necessary to reduce plant stress. Scale insects thrive on stressed plants. Fertilization and watering will increase plant health and vigor. Creating or enlarging mulch beds will reduce root competition with adjacent lawn areas.
Scale insect control
Photo:  James Solomon, USDA Forest Service,
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