Question of the Week – Lawn Insects in the Winter


Freddie F. from Yorktown asked, “Is it too early to expect insects would be on my trees and shrubs?”

Why Winter Is a Great Time to Find Lawn Insects

Most people don’t worry about lawn insects in the winter. Now is a good time of year to scout your trees and shrubs for insects because there is no foliage present to hide insects living on the stems or branches. Wax ScaleWe have been seeing these insects on Hollies, Cherry Laurel, and have found them on Japanese Maples.

Indian Wax Scales

Found mostly on shrubs in the North as opposed to tree infestations in the South, Indian wax scale looks like someone stuck their white chewing gum in the crouch of the plant’s stems. If you remove the “gum” the underside of the scale is pink or red. The white substance is the wax the insect secretes to protect its body. The pink or red underside is the actual scale. Scale most often chooses hollies, euonymus, boxwood, pyracantha, and Viburnum as its hosts.

Indian Wax Scale
Indian Wax Scale on the stem of cherry laurel. photo credit: R. Robert

Indian wax scale feeds by extracting sap from the vascular system. A heavy infestation can cause premature leaf drop and branch dieback as well as producing large quantities of honeydew. These quantities of honeydew encourage black sooty mold which renders the plant and surrounding area unsightly.

During this time of year the best control is mechanical. Simply remove the scale from your plants with your hands. The females overwinter to produce eggs in May. This is when the insect is most vulnerable.

Indian Wax Scale on the stem of Callicarpa.  photo credit: R. Robert
Indian Wax Scale on the stem of Callicarpa.
photo credit: R. Robert

Information and Inspection

Contact us today and we can inspect your plants now to start controlling this waxy pest. If you have questions,  call one of our local offices for more information: (804)285-6200 in Richmond, (757)258-1788 in Williamsburg, and (434) 975-0100 in Charlottesville.

Learn More About Lawn Insects

Winter Treatments for Spring Lawn Insects

How To Identify Insects in Your Lawn

Three Devastating Impacts of Japanese Beetles On Virginia Lawns