Scale Insects

Camelia leaf with small tea scale crawlers

Tea Scale | Armored Scale

Tea scale are often first observed in Atlanta, GA between March and April. Tea scale are an armored scale that cause chlorosis and can lead to overall plant decline. Plants infected with scale insects appear unhealthy and produce very little new growth. Scale insects that attack foliage are usually seen on the underside of the leaf. Symptoms on the upper leaf surface appear as chlorotic or yellowing areas. Heavily infested leaves will often drop off. Other types of scale insects attack twigs and branches and may cause death when infected severely. Tea scale have multiple overlapping generations and are commonly found on holly and camellia species throughout the southeastern U.S. Nursery trials demonstrate soil application of a systemic insecticide works very well at season long control of these pests. Foliar sprays of Horticultural Oils, are also good options, but keep in mind multiple foliar applications may be required on plants with heavy infestations.

The newly hatched scale, known as a crawler, has the ability to move about the plant to find succulent new growth. After about a week it inserts its mouthparts into the plant tissue. If it is a female it remains there for its lifetime. Crawlers can spread from plant to plant with the wind. They will attach a silk strand to the plant, raise their tails, and blow away with the wind.

Because insecticides are much more effective against the crawler stage of the scale life cycle applications should be timed to coincide with this stage if possible. The adult stage is usually reached 5 - 11 weeks after eggs hatch and there may be several overlapping generations each year. The crawler stage is observed in the spring. To learn more about this issue, feel free to reach out to a Certified Arborist at Richmond Tree Experts for an arborist evaluation.

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