Brown scale on plants are the pests that will hurt them and with killed branches and leaves. Naturally, you may wonder if there’s any variety to them and how you can fight them and keep them at bay.
There are thousands of species of these oddballs worldwide, but they can be grouped into three essential categories. But don’t worry, you can jump at this problem with ease, and have them regret visiting your plants.
- Why Are There Brown Scales on Your Plants?
- How To Treat Your Plants From Scale Insects
Why Are There Brown Scales on Your Plants?
There are scales on your plants because they have bruised plant tissue or have been growing weak. They also come due to a lack of predators, due to their natural migration period, due to lack of monitoring, and lastly, due to environmental issues.
Scales seem to arrive when you have the least need of them, and this means that when your plant appears healthier than ever and usually during the growth stage of the year. Brown scale insects are attracted to healthy plant tissue and the sap that flows in it and spring season is the time of year when insects will be most active, and it’s the time when scale insects will arrive too. Unfortunately, they will quickly spread by the thousands and overtake the plant if you’re not diligent enough.
These sneaky things suck sap from plants and can be found clinging to stems, branches, and leaves. The key to getting rid of these little pests is to recognize them in time and take action as soon as they’re spotted. The main action to take is to stay vigilant and keep them off before they can do any huge harm.
– Bruised Plant Tissue
Scale insects feed on the sap that is on the leaves of plants, which contains essential nutrients. When plants get bruised, or parts of them are somehow snapped or broken, they tend to bleed, making the sap abundantly present on the surface. This availability of sap attracts and sustains scale populations.
You could see them as the female fern scales, scientifically known as Pinnaspis aspidistrae, are small insects that secrete a protective covering, which looks like a tiny oyster or pear, and is flat and light brown in color, and they would be attracted to any tissue of the plant that has been bruised.
The newly hatched crawlers are even paler in color and can be easily mistaken for cast skin when you see them on the bruise. These tiny armors can grow up to only a sixteenth of an inch long. Male scales have a fluffy white appearance with three ridges, and when they emerge from their armor, they look like gnat-like insects with wings and you would spot them so quickly.
– Weak Plants
Weak or stressed plants are often more susceptible to scale infestations. Conditions such as drought, nutrient deficiencies, improper pruning, or other environmental stresses can weaken plants, making them more vulnerable to scale insects.
Stressed plants that are dealing with too much pressure on too many fronts may have compromised defenses, allowing scales to establish and multiply. It can be hard to miss armored scales that would be attracted to weak plants when in their adult stage as they are quick to come.
They come in different shapes and colors, but they all have one thing in common: a waxy covering protecting their body. This armor-like shield makes them so tricky to control and bother the plant further.
Unlike soft scales, armored scales do not produce honeydew. You can tell if an adult scale is armored by flipping it over and looking for a separate soft body beneath the hard shell as you see your plant having stunted growth due to these armored scales, because they have a hard covering that often has concentric rings or overlapping layers. Some soft scales may also have a hard covering, but they will be smooth or with ridges and no overlapping layers.
– Lack of Predators
In a balanced ecosystem, natural predators, such as ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and predatory mites all help control scale insect populations. Scale insects will always be present in your plants in a normal setting.
However, natural predators are here in your aid to feed on them and keep them in check. You must also remember that scales can proliferate more easily if the natural predator populations are low or absent.
– Natural Scale Migrations
Scales can spread from plant to plant by various means. They may be carried by wind, insects, birds, or even human activities such as handling infested plants or gardening tools. As soon as they land in suitable conditions on a new host plant, they can establish colonies and reproduce as they will begin to multiply and take over.
– Lack of Monitoring
Too many times, the fault lies directly on us, and sometimes we’re unable to watch over our plants properly. This would also take place due to a variety of given reasons. Still, the underlying fact is that infestations can go unnoticed and escalate if plants are not regularly inspected for pests, including scales. Actuate detection and appropriate control measures are essential for managing scale populations effectively.
– Environmental Issues
Some climate conditions will influence the emergence of scales and their brassy behavior. For instance, warm and dry climates may be more conducive to scale insect reproduction and survival. Some scales are more prevalent in specific regions or habitats, influenced by temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors.
The brown soft scale is what would come toward a plant when there are different environmental issues. These attack both stems and leaves and can grow up to about five millimeters long with oval-shaped bodies whose appearance will alter depending on where they develop on the plant, and with the climate change, you would see them around your plant.
These have a flat, slightly domed appearance when viewed from the side. They can appear yellow-green to yellow-brown, with mottled brown spots as they age, but only female brown scales are produced as they would try to spot a plant to grow around it and multiply. Once mature, the mother scale produces eggs that hatch within her body, creating first-stage scales known as crawlers.
How To Treat Your Plants From Scale Insects
To treat your plants from scale insects, you must inspect the plants well and then prune the parts they infest. You may also spray some rubbing alcohol on it, wipe the rest of the plant, attract natural predators, and apply some insecticide oils.
– Inspect the Plants
Before taking any steps, try to verify that scale infestation is causing the issue. This means conducting a thorough plant inspection and ruling out other common pests.
Consider using a magnifying glass to examine every inch of your plants. This allows you to identify any early stage of infestation. Look for periodical small, brown, or white lumps on the undersides of leaves. It’s also worth remembering how certain types of plants are more susceptible to scale infestations — if you’re growing camellias and hollies, which is why you must be aware.
– Prune Parts Too Far Gone
If you spot an infection, the first step is to separate the infected plant from others to prevent the infestation from spreading. Keep the plant isolated for at least three weeks, marking the full life cycle of the scales. This will help you establish that you’ve mitigated the pests.
Trim off any of the impacted parts of the plant with gardening shears, and for this you can only cut the parts that look like they cannot be salvaged. If hole parts of the plant look dead, you can remove entire sections by cutting above the first healthy leaf node.
Always use sanitized gardening tools and shears to prevent diseases from entering through the wounds. Dispose of the infested branches, twigs, and leaves in the trash. If you think a compost bin is a good idea, think again — scales will soon render your fertilizer unusable.
– Use Rubbing Alcohol
Removing scales from plants can be a challenge, especially if the infestation has progressed. But if the scale numbers are low, you can still pick them off by hand. Another effective way to remove the pests is by using an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or a neem-based leaf shine.
However, it’s important to avoid dipping the cotton swab into the alcohol bottle directly. Instead, you can also pour some rubbing alcohol into a small container, and dilute it in water before dipping the swab. The alcohol will smother and suffocate these pests.
If the scale insects have become armored, removing them may become even more challenging. If you’re not too squeamish, you can scrape them off with your fingernails. It may take more time than other ways, but if you’re focused enough, you can completely remove them.
– Wipe the Rest
Give your plant a refreshing bath and rinse it off in a sink or use a soft and a damp cloth as you wipe away any deceased insects. A microfiber cloth is a great option — it’s gentle enough so that it does not cause any harm to your plant.
Moisten the microfiber cloth under running water before you get at it. Then, gently wipe the leaves and stems, being careful not to apply excessive pressure as this can cause your plant unnecessary distress.
– Attract Natural Predators
Removing these are only a battle half won, and note that some work should still be done to ensure those scale insects don’t come back. One option is to introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs, soldier beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Moreover, you must be very detailed because these natural predators are great at taking care of the young, crawling nymphs that hatch from the eggs and move around looking for a new feeding spot on your plants.
– Apply Insecticide Oils
Horticultural oils, neem oils, and other safe, oil-based insecticides can also be used to control all stages of insects, including adults. These oils work by suffocating the insects and are particularly effective against those pesky armored adults that other insecticides can’t penetrate.
Another organic option is Azamax, which contains azadirachtin found in neem oil. It offers multiple modes of action and is approved for organic use. Plus, it’s non-toxic to honey bees and other friendly insects.
Insecticidal soap and d-Limonene are also effective organic pesticides that can kill scale insect larvae, but multiple applications may be required for effective control. If all else fails, fast-acting systemic insecticides can be used.
Botanical insecticides are derived from resistant plants and have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemical pesticides. Systemic insecticides like neonicotinoids are potent but pose a risk to honey bees or other pollinators you’d probably like to have at your side.
Now, you know all about how these insects come, but don’t worry; if you follow what we have said, you will be fine, so here’s a recap:
- Scale insects aren’t what you want to see on your indoor plants, as they come duee eto environmental issues or damaged plants. Not only will they try to confuse you into taking another set of actions like looking for diseases.
- Inspect your indoor and outdoor plants closely, and determine what type of scale insects are on there, and at which stage the infestation is.
- Soft ones will be easily dealt with by applying some alcohol and damp cloth, while you will need to employ some force to remove those hard-scaled buggers.
- Prevention is always your best bet, so try to call some scale predators to your aid like ladybugs, lacewings, and wasps will love a bite of those nymphs.
- Insecticidal soaps and other insecticides will come in handy, too so you must just go with more natural options first.
With these tips, we know that your plant care methods are going to be scale-proof from now on!
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