Mystery Critter: Scale
This quiet, immobile insect can wreak havoc on certain plants.
By: Marie Hofer
If you turn over a leaf and find dozens of motionless brown or cream-colored specks that resemble grains of rice, and maybe a few tiny crawlers, you've found a scale infection. Scale insects are common and often serious pests of ornamental shrubs and trees. They do their damage by sucking out the plant's juices. Often their work goes unnoticed until leaves start turning yellow in splotches and the shrub or tree begins to look like there's something amiss.
Usually most of the insects are found on the undersides of the leaves and on the stems of the plant. If the infestation has been there long enough, the leaves fall off, the plant loses vigor and sometimes the whole shrub dies.
To combat scale most effectively, it's best to know which kind it is--and there are at least 150 different kinds to choose from--but mainly it's important to know if it's a soft scale or an armored one. Take a few leaves to your local extension agent and get the scale identified. For euonymus scale, the males are cream-colored and rice-grain-like, and the females are dark and have the shape of a pear or an oyster shell. The crawlers look like tiny, moving specks of dust.
In general, conventional sprays don't work on the adults and are only effective if crawlers are present. But pesticides also harm scale's natural predators.
Control seems to work best if you first remove heavily infested branches and destroy them. Spray with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap when crawlers are present (shake a branch over a white piece of paper and look for moving specks). Repeat in a couple of weeks. Crawlers emerge at different times, depending on the type of scale. Ask your extension agent for timing and frequency recommendations. (In late winter or early spring, before bud break, you can spray with dormant oil. Oil products that are labeled as summer or Volck can be sprayed during either the dormant or the growing season, using different concentrations that are specified on the label.)
Scale can often be so devastating on euonymus that shrubs are killed to the ground--one good reason to avoid planting susceptible species.
Despite its unfriendly name, this critter is a friend to gardeners most of the time.
White-Lined Sphinx Moth
The White-lined Sphinx Moth starts out as a caterpillar and uses soil to turn into an adult moth.
Fungus on Mulch: Stinkhorn
Mulch can be the breeding ground for unsightly but harmless growths.
These long-legged creatures are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes.
Spiny Elm Caterpillar
The spiny elm caterpillar is the larval stage of the mourning cloak butterfly.
The outdoor experts at HGTV.com provide information about the collared lizard.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Learn more about the easter tiger swallowtail butterfly.
Live With Critters in the Garden
Learn how to coexist peacefully with the various creatures who love your garden.
Q&A: Methods for Mole Control
Learn how to rid your garden of a pesky mole.
Q&A: Cucumber Beetles
Here's a tip on how to get rid of cucumber beetles.
Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.
Photo Friday: Cooking and Dining in the Great Outdoors
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 28, 2015 by Beth Rucker
This or That: Pick Your Favorite Vintage Find From Fixer Upper
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 27, 2015 by Farima Alavi
6 Essentials for the Perfect Tailgate Party + Win the 1 Thing You Really Need
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 25, 2015 by Farima Alavi
Discover the Winning Hue in Our Color Vs. Color Competition!
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 24, 2015 by Kayla Kitts
Copy This Room: Get Beach Flip Style in Your Living Room
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 24, 2015 by Shannon Petrie
4 Ways to Personalize Your Dorm Desk + College Goodie Giveaway!
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 21, 2015 by Farima Alavi
The Easiest (and Cutest!) DIY Dorm Roommate Mugs Ever
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 20, 2015 by Marianne Canada