David M. from Charlottesville asked, “My neighbor said my trees are infested with armor scales. Can you tell me what that is?”
Armor scales are one of the many pests that damage our landscapes. They don’t get much notice themselves because they don’t look like normal insects. Most are flat or may look like a tiny wart on the twig, leaf or fruit of the susceptible plant. However the damage that they cause in high populations is very noticeable. They cause this damage by sticking their tiny mouthparts into the plant and sucking out the juices. This feeding interrupts the natural flow of water and nutrients in the plant. The damage that you’ll see from an armor scale population can be wilted or yellow leaves that drop prematurely. You will also notice dieback in the limbs of the tree and a general decline over a couple of seasons, depending upon how severe of an infestation is present. Armor scale or hard scale, is a generalization as there are many different species of scale that fall into this group. The name “armor scale” is derived because of the insect’s hard waxy cover that protect it from predators, and most insecticides. Because of their waxy cover, timing is critical when trying to control an armor scale population. Here at Virginia Green Lawn Care we use Horticultural oil to control this particular pest. We time these applications to catch the scale when it is in a crawler stage and has not yet developed its armor. If you think that you have a problem with these insects, or have any other questions, please feel free to call us.