Soft Scale

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Soft scales are aphid-like creatures that feed on the nutrient rich sap of trees. Immature scales, called crawlers feed on leaves whereas mature scales will mainly feed on branches. Soft scales also secrete a waxy covering, but unlike armored scale it is an integral part of their body. All soft scales feed on the sap contents of the tree which means they are susceptible to systemic insecticides. They also produce a lot of honeydew that attracts ants and is necessary for the growth of sooty mold. Dormant oils and contact insecticides can be effective, but only if they are applied to the unprotected crawler stage of the scale. Thus, timing of contact insecticide application is critical to effective control.

Many species of scales are highly parasitized by tiny wasp parasites. Pin-sized holes in the wax are the only evidence of parasitism since most of these wasps are hard to see. Scale crawlers are also preyed upon by numerous beneficial insects.

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