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Scale

Scale

Q. I've had rubber tree plants for years but never with this recent problem. There are round/oval dark brown to blackish little things that are sticking all over the leaves and stems. They look like they could be bugs on top but when I scrape them off and look under them it is more like a shell and they are easily cracked to pieces with my nail. I've looked everywhere for an answer to this and I read of something called "scale(s)" but cannot find a picture to identify it nor can I find anything to tell me just what "IS" a "scale" if this is what it is and how do I get rid of them for they are spreading and destroying my rubber tree plant's leaves.

A. You have indeed done your homework and are sadly correct. The bug infestation which you describe is Scale. They are nasty prolific creatures and very hard to eradicate.

The outside of them looks like a small shell dark brown in color. If you peel one off the underside is white and soft-cottony. Squish it to kill it. They are hard to get rid of because the shells protect them from chemicals. Therefore you must get to the undersides to kill.

The method to do this is a systemic insecticide. Its application whether as a spray or a drench into the soil enables the chemical to get inside the system of the plant [like blood vessels]. As the scale eats the tissue it ingests the chemical and dies. It is timely and many times kills the plant along with the scale if done for an extended period of time.

Ortho makes systemics to use against scale. Go to your local nursery or garden center and read the labels. Apply exactly as the label states and use care to avoid breathing the chemical and getting any on your hands and clothing. Use caution. Outside treatment is preferred and keep the plant out of the sunlight.

Followup applications are necessary as the eggs hatch and start the whole cycle again.

I had it on ferns and ended up discarding the plants in disgust. Be sure the scale does not spread to other nearby plants and good luck!


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