Hi, my name is: Scale

Describe yourself: I’m tiny (about 2mm) but that’s not a problem as I’m really unattractive. I am a single mum with up to 2000 kids, but don’t let that put you off! I have a nice hump… a small round shell I guess you would call it. It can be hard or soft, waxy or armoured and comes in white, brown or black. It gets darker the older I get. I’m shy so I live permanently under my hump. I am easily overlooked, and sometimes people think I am just part of the plant!

Hobbies: Hanging out along the stems and veins of leaves and sucking sap. I sometimes lay eggs and then sit really, really still and watch my thousands of babies wreak havoc! If I am a soft scale, I just love exuding honeydew!
Likes: I adore citrus and most woody plants, but I am also partial to succulents and vines. I don’t mind gardenias, holly, many house plants, hibiscus, apples, pears and plums. I have a really great relationship with ants and they really look after me.
Dislikes: Predatory mites, green and brown lacewings, predatory thrips, spiders, small birds and parasitic wasps. I despise home made vegie oil soap mixes or store bought alternatives.
You’ll know you’ve met me when: Your leaves start turning yellow and dropping off or you can see me and my girlfriends all over your trunk! If I exude honeydew, black sooty mould may turn up. Then your tree looks like it’s covered in charcoal!

Breaking up ain’t hard to do… if:

  • Encourage predatory mites… this is pretty easy, especially if you use compost, manures and mulch your soil! They love this stuff.
  • Buy some predatory bugs
  • Give me a blast with a high pressure hose in the morning, three days in a row.
  • Get out the vacuum, and suck me off the plant… yep, some people actually do this!
  • Use home made veggie oil soap mixes or store bought alternatives
  • Tell my friends to stop coming around! Ants look after scale, so spreading tansy around the garden will stop the ants, and seriously reduce the scale around!
  • Pay your neighbours’ kids to come round and wipe us off with a stick!
  • Dab us with rubbing alcohol… man, that burns (but it won’t harm your plants)


Pic 1: http://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/LSO/scales.htm Desc: The delightful brown soft scale
Pic 2: Elaine Shallue, SGA Desc: Gum Tree Scale with ant friends!