Insect Control: Houseplants

Scale

Scale
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Scale insects vary dramatically in their appearance from very small organisms (1–2 mm) that occur under wax covers (some look like oyster shells), to shiny pearl-like objects (about 5 mm), to creatures covered with mealy wax. Adult female scales are almost always immobile (aside from mealybugs) and permanently attached to the plant they have parasitized. They secrete a waxy coating for defense; this coating causes them to resemble reptilian scales or fish scales, hence the name.

Scale insects feed on a wide variety of plants, and many scale species are considered pests. Some types are economically valuable, such as the cochineal, Polish cochineal and lac scales. Scale insects' waxy covering makes them quite resistant to pesticides, which are only effective against the first-instar nymph crawler stage. However, scales are often controlled with horticultural oils, which suffocate them, or through biological control.