What is Scale and How Do You Treat It?

close up of tree showing scale

What is Scale?

Scale is a type of insect, but it differentiates itself from other insects in distinct ways.

There are two forms of scale: armored scale and soft scale. Armored scale creates a protective covering outside their bodies, particularly the females in protecting their eggs during the winter season. Soft scale, on the other hand, does not have a tough outer layer that serves as protection; they secrete waxy substances, are typically larger, and tackle the winter months as immature, but fertilized, females.

There are many species of scale insects, and they feed on many different plants. Some symptoms you might see from scale insects include yellowing leaves, branches systematically dying, and visible stress on the plant. These types of insects feed on plant sap, and they secrete a sticky substance called honeydew (hint: it’s poop!). You may have noticed the honeydew falling and landing on whatever happens to be underneath– whether it’s an outdoor patio, cars, or foliage. It can be a real nuisance!

Examples of Scale

Japanese Maple Scale is one type of scale we see, affecting Japanese Maples in particular; don’t be fooled, though! You may see this scale show up on other woody material, like Hollies or Dogwoods. These are a type of armored scale.

Pine Needle Scale is another scale commonly found on conifers across the United States. It is a type of armored scale; the crawlers will typically hatch out during May. They can cause discoloration, yellowing of the needles, and even branch death.

Cottony maple Scale is a form of soft scale. A heavy infestation may cause serious dieback of twigs and branches. Like other scales, Cottony Maple Scale produces honeydew, which can also produce Black Sooty Mold on the leaves and branches. Besides Maple trees, Cottony Maple Scale can be found on many other trees, such as Elm, Ash, Poplar, and Dogwoods.

Treating Scale

As we always say, a healthy tree is more prepared to ward off attacks from insects and diseases than a tree that is not healthy. All the trees and shrubs in the urban environment are stressed, so step number one is getting them on a Program to promote plant health!

Schedule an appointment with one of our neighborhood Arborists today to find out what’s going on with your trees and what is the best treatment Program for helping your trees and shrubs be as healthy as they can be!

Contact our tree service professionals today!