Scale is an interesting pest: most people notice them when they see little domes stuck to the stem or any ridges along a leaf. The domes are actually the last stage of the insect since it is a protective shell that resists insecticidal soap sprays. Inside the dome are the eggs. When they hatch, the “crawlers” move along the plant and find a new place to settle and suck out the sugary fluids from the plant.
The way I’ve effectively dealt with scale is two-fold: physical removal of domes with tweezers (or just cutting off plant material if heavily infested) and insecticidal soap to destroy any remaining crawlers (repeat weekly). You will have to repeat this process several times. I repeat: you should EXPECT to treat on a regular basis until the infestation is cleared. It’s rare to get them all in one shot!
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Here are some photos to help you identify if you have a scale infestation:
Scale infestation on “Crispy Wave” fern
Scale infestation on Pothos ‘Cebu Blue’:
Dome picked off with tweezers: (left) top side; (right) underside with crawlers and eggs.
Scale on Monstera deliciosa:
I took these photos with my phone but for some of the closer shots, I used some clip-on lenses. If you’re interested in photography or just documenting your pest battles, you might find these helpful in expanding the photographic capabilities of your phone!
Mini Mobile Phone Microscope: this will get you REALLY close! Also has its own LED light, which is helpful for getting clear images.
Clip-on Phone Lens Kit (Macro, Wide, Fisheye, etc): these lenses have many applications but here, I’m using the macro lens to get closer images (not as close as the microscope).
Hopefully after seeing all these images, you’ll be able to catch a scale infestation early on! As you fight them, don’t be discouraged if they seem to keep coming back – that’s to be expected. Just be persistent in physical removal and spray treatments – and be sensible enough to decide that maybe throwing away the plant is the best option!
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