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» Articles » Sharp Tips » Scale On Houseplants: How To Recognize And Eliminate

Scale On Houseplants: How To Recognize And Eliminate

by Douglas L. Bishop on 3/20/2016 12:21

Having a problem with scale on your houseplants?

If so, don’t feel alone--scale insect infestations are a fairly common problem that home gardeners and plant lovers must sometimes deal with.

Let’s first ask two basic questions to begin our discussion of scale identification and control.

And, in fact, those two points are the center of our discussion--number one, what is scale? And, number two, how do we control it?

Scale insects are oval shaped little bugs, usually no larger than about an eighth of an inch in length. They are generally brown, grey, or greenish-yellow in color, and appear to be immobile little blobs that act as if they have been glued to the surface of plant stems and often to the underside of leaves.

The scale insects cause harm by attaching themselves to the plants and sucking sap and nutrients from the plants--thus depleting the plants of life-giving nutrition.

As scale infestation progresses and worsens, the leaves begin to turn brown and wither. If control measures are not taken, the plant can become so weakened as to die.

Scale insects can also move from plant to plant, so immediate control must be sought so as not to allow an all-out attack on your houseplants.

A good first step before control measures are even started is to move non-infested plants away from the stricken ones as soon as you notice the scale at all.

Now, on to our measures of control to get rid of these yucky little pests.

If you notice their presence early on while the number of scale insects is still minimal, you may be able to pick and scrape the little rascals off by hand, rubbing your fingernails along the surfaces of the plant where the varmints are attached.

If you prefer other means, insecticidal soaps or oils sprayed onto the affected areas are a good non-chemical means of control. Neem oil is also available at your garden centers for scale control.

In a personal experience with the undesirable little rascals on a large palm plant, I first started scraping off the scale by hand.

The next day, after moving the plant outside and preparing to spray with soap, I happened to notice a few ladybugs on the plant.

Thinking this might indeed be a simple and natural method of control, I held off on the spray.

Watching the plant closely as the days progressed, I observed more ladybugs and fewer scale insects on the plant. The scale infestation is now very nearly completely over with.

Thanks ladybugs, and “hooray” for Nature!!

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