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Scale Insect Identification

Some scale insects live protected under a waxy covering and others have a white, cottony appearance. Given their atypical characteristics, scale insects are often not recognized as insects as all. But make no mistake, these small pests are common and widespread. They survive by sucking large portions of sap and nutrients from the host plant. This can be debilitating for trees, especially those that are already stressed from extreme weather or soil nutrient deficiencies.

Withered leaves and dieback at the tips of leaves are common signs of an infestation. The presence of honeydew, a sticky liquid that encourages the growth of blackish sooty mold, may also indicate scale insects have taken residence in your trees.

Given many have a protective covering, scale can be a difficult insect to control. It is important to know the specific type of scale present as well as the level of infestation to help guide management decisions.


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