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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