Identifying Tree Scale In Pennsylvania

It’s springtime in Pennsylvania, and many of us are eager to get outside and finally feel something that resembles warmth. We may not be out of the woods yet, but it’s not too early to start thinking about our lawns, gardens, and yes, our trees. Many homeowners take their trees’ health for granted because they seem strong and sturdy, but there are many tree damaging pests that can cause real harm to your trees.

Most people can identify a tree pest when they see one. However, there is one pest, in particular, that is especially sneaky and nearly impossible to spot; tree scale. Tree scale sounds like a tree disease, but it’s actually an insect that has attached itself to your trees.

What Are Tree Scales?

Tree scales are tiny insects that suck on the sap of trees. Tree scale comes in two types of scale insects: armored scales and soft scales. 

Armored (Hard Scale) – It secretes a hard protective covering over themselves. The hard scale lives and feeds under this shell and does not move. They do not secrete honeydew like their soft scale counterparts.

Soft Scale – It secretes a waxy film to protect its body. They produce honeydew, which can attract bees, wasps, ants and can be a host for sooty mold.

Life Cycle of Tree Scales

In the spring, adult females emerge from the waxy coating they use to overwinter in and lay eggs, which hatch over a period of one to three weeks. The newly hatched larvae are called “crawlers” for the way they move about the plant until a suitable feeding site is found. Young crawlers insert their piercing mouthparts into the plant and begin to suck on the sap. Over the season, they produce their armor as they lose their legs and transform into immobile adults that resemble a growth on the tree rather than an insect.

What are the Signs of Tree Scale?

A few tree scales are not a problem for a tree to handle but a major infestation can weaken or even kill the tree.

Damage can look like:

  • Branch defoliation
  • Early leaf drop
  • Stunted growth
  • Tiny growths on branches
  • Yellowing leaves

How to Treat Tree Scale

Tree scale can be hard to treat not only because these insects are nearly impossible to spot but their protective armor or coatings protect them from most traditional pesticides.

To prevent and control tree scale:

  • Prune and get rid of infested branches, twigs, and leaves.
  • Add flowers and plants that attract natural predators such as ladybugs, bees, and lacewing.
  • Dormant oils are moderately effective on overwintering soft scale insects when applied in early spring before trees come out of dormancy. 

Protect Your Pennsylvania Trees With Services From Lawn Rx

Here at Lawn Rx, we have everything you need to provide for your lawn and trees in the spring, summer, fall, and early winter. We offer mosquito control services, as well as perimeter pest control and flea and tick control services.

Call us for more information at (724) 539-1003 or get a free estimate here. Follow us on Facebook for all of the latest news and offerings from Lawn Rx.