Looking for ways to remove scale insects from your plants? Let us tell you all you need to know about it! – Gro Indoor
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Quick Ways to Get Rid of Scale Insects

by 09 Apr 2023

Quick Ways to Get Rid of Scale Insects

If you have been exploring different methods of getting rid of scale insects, then you have landed on the right page. Scale insects are usually stuck on the stems, twigs, leaves, fruits, and most plant branches. These insects mostly target those plants located in your backyard and sometimes those potted inside the house. In addition to that, the scale insects are found on home-grown plants and greenhouse plants.

There more than 1000 different species of scales found in North America. So, tackling them is not an easy task at all. In order to get rid of scales for good, here are a few tips. However, before we dive into how to get free-of-scale insects, we will first talk to you about its identification and prevention.

What are Scale Insects?

Scale insects are very tiny sap-sucking pests stuck to the branches of various plants. The scale insects are hard to trace as they don't resemble bugs at all. Instead, they look like little growths, bumps, and malformations on your plant.

The scale insects appear as hard-scale and soft-scale insects. There are many, but these two types are the most commonly found in plants.

Hard scale insects are about 1/8 inch in size and have a protective shell that covers their entire body. This hardcover looks like it is attached to the insect's body or seems to secrete honeydew. The soft-scale insects are a bit longer in size than the hard-scale ones. They grow up to ½ inch and move at a slower speed or don't move at all.

The Various Kinds of Scale Insects that Can Cause Damage to Your Plants

If you think that there are just two kinds of scale insects, then you have been mistaken. Google the types of scale insects, and you will be surprised to know about the different types that exist! It has 8000 species commonly found in North America. Of course, it would be impossible to name and cover them all, but here is a common list:

Margarodidae these are often referred to as 'ground pearls.' These scale insects are larger and look fluffy and soft from the outside.

Coccidae these are the ones you specifically need to watch out for! They release a white, waxy coating secretion that covers and protects them from other insecticides. Their favorite plants to attack are coffee plants.

Eriococcidae these scale insects are often ignored and not easily identified because they camouflage with the plants and don't resemble regular pests.

Pseudococcidae this type originally belongs to the mealy bug family and is the only scale insect with legs. Despite that, it moves extremely slowly.

Diaspididae resembling a sea shell, these insects have an armor-like structure. This hard-shell covering helps them stay safe from other attacking pests and birds.

How Harmful are Scale Insects to Plants?

A scale insect infestation is the last thing you would want for your plants. These notorious little insects can be very devastating for your garden. They are quick to reproduce and infest, so you need early detection. And by the time you detect them, the damage has already been done.

A heavy infestation can result in yellowed/withered leaves, vigor, stunted growth, and even dead plants. These pests are in large clusters, so you must look for white spots while hunting for them. These scale insects release a lot of honeydew and secrete a waxy film. It is this waxy film secretion that proves to be harmful to your plants. This gooey substance attracts many other pests like bugs, wasps, ants, and more.

As fungal organisms tend to feed on honeydew, it turns into a sooty mold. It has an unsightly and easily ignorable appearance and is not harmful to your plants. However, this could be the first sign of a problem.

Can We Prevent Scale Insects on Plants?

Before we get into how to get free from a scale insect infestation, we will first explain why we aren't teaching you how to prevent these pests.

You can prevent pest infestations by practicing good gardening ethics and hygiene. You should always be vigilant around your plants environment, keep a keen eye on them, and take quick action if you notice anything irregular. But does the same apply to the scale insects?

Unfortunately, no. There aren't any real or effective prevention methods to treat these scale insects. But keeping your garden clean, keeping the compost away from the plants, and removing the debris can prevent scale insect infestation in your garden.

How Can Using Diatomaceous Earth Help?

Diatomaceous Earth is made from the crushed-up skeletons of various microorganisms, which makes them a natural substance. They seem like tiny little rocks resembling Growstones, but not too much like them. The diatomaceous earth is far more complicated than the Growstones. These small little pieces of stones are the fossilized skeleton of diatoms.

You can spread this stuff all around your plant and let it work its magic. It stops insects from getting around or into your plants. The minute pieces of glass that it has cut the insects and eventually kills them. This method will work best if you aren't already dealing with a scale insect infestation on a specific plant. You can use diatomaceous earth as a prevention method.

Its best results are seen around soft-stemmed plants and are harmless to pets, birds, and beneficial insects.

Methods of Getting Rid of Scale Insects on Plants

In this section, we share the most fruitful and effective methods to be free of scale insects for good! To opt for the treatment that will be effective for your plants, you should know how far the infestation has reached, which stage your plants are on, and how you feel about having insects in your garden.

Let's begin with the easiest and least intrusive method of treatment. We can later jump to chemical pesticides if the treatments do not show any results and are not sufficient.

Throw Away the Infected Plants

As soon as you know that a plant has been infected with scale insects, your first step to protect other plants should be to be free of the infected one. Or, if you don't want to throw away the entire plant, you can snip off the infected twig, branch, fruit, or leaf.

And if you aren't dealing with a lot of pests, then you can easily pick them up in your hands and throw them out of your garden. By throwing, literally we mean disposing of them in the trash can to revert if you try to compost them.

Schedule Your Treatment to Make It More Effective

Scale insects have a great defensive mechanism. They can easily overcome any pesticide that you choose to use. So, to tackle such difficult insects, plan your move and be extra smart.

The best time to attack these fierce fighters is when they are less in number, meaning when they have just begun infesting your plants. At this time, they are the most vulnerable, and since they are less in number, it is easier to kill them.

As mentioned earlier, the best time to attack this pest is when they are in the 'nymph' or 'crawler' phase of their lives. You would want to add a pesticide when the scale insects start crawling not when they are immobile and attached to their host plant.

So, your first action when you see the scales is to remove them immediately. You would want to snip the entire branch, twig, or leaf out and throw it somewhere far off from the garden so that you are unable to return.

Do Not Let the Pests Overwinter

Scale insects can spend the winter in tree barks in the form of eggs or nymphs. Get hold of some horticultural oil to spray on the plant and kill them all.

Make Use of Good Bugs

Insects like ladybugs and lacewings are predators of larval-level scale insects. Ensure beneficial bugs when hunting them down when the scale insects are in an immobile stage. But if your infestation is a large one and these scale insects have grown a lot, they can also compete against beneficial bugs.

Indeed, it would help if you always made an effort to eliminate any infestation that may have already grown. These can be purchased online, and you can release them into your garden to do their job.

Effective Pesticides to Be Free of Scale Insect

Suppose you have already tried and failed by using the least intrusive prevention methods. In that case, it's now time to use organic pesticides to be free of these pests. Or you can move to this method if you don't want to waste time and come straight to business.

Insecticides are not always harmful, but they can be if not used correctly. While using these chemical compounds, ensure that you use them in the correct quantities to get the desired results. The chemical components used in these insecticides quickly and easily break down in the atmosphere without affecting other plants.

D-Limonene and insecticidal soap are other organic options you can consider to get the job done. As mentioned earlier, you would want to start using the preventive measure when the scale insects are in their egg or larvae stage. When using organic options, ensure that you spray at least twice a day.

Another effective insecticide that you can use is- General Hydroponics AzaMax Concentrate. It is a concentrated spray and is approved for use by organic growers. It also contains azadirachtin, an ingredient that isvery effective as an insecticide.

Safer Brand 3 in 1 Garden Spray Concentrate- is another best option. It is an OMRI-listed broad-spectrum pesticide. It is an excellent additional pest-attacking insecticide that you could keep for future use. Remember, none of the above-recommended products are harmful to bees and other pollinators.

Tackling Scale Insects Found on Indoor Plants

Scale insect infestation on an indoor plant is not a good thing to foster.

As these bugs are fierce and very smart, they are most likely to reach into your well-protected grow room. And as your house will be void of any natural predators of scale insects, they will spread even faster.

As mentioned earlier, if you catch these insects during their crawling stage, then immediate action is what you should do. But if you cannot do so, you can use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to kill them and clean your plants. And then, you will also need to remove the dead insects from the plants as well.

Getting Rid of Scale Insects in A Nutshell

We get it; dealing with scale insect infestation is not an easy task, but that does not mean you're going to let your plants rot (root rot and bud rot is common) and die.

Maintain high levels of hygiene and rotate your plants very frequently. Fertilize and weed them regularly too.

If your plants are affected by other pests and diseases check our guides on getting rid of: Leafhoppers, Powdery Mildew, Fungal gnats, Fusarium Wilt, Leaf miners, and Aphids. You can also contact our experts of GroIndoor.com at 866-GRO-INDR.

Sep 7th 2022
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