What Are Scale Insects? Complete Guide (2023)

What Are Scale Insects?

These are the small insects known for their extremely different appearances. Adult female scale insects are known for the absence of limbs and soft bodies while they are concealed behind the scales. In addition, these female insects also excrete wax to protect themselves. There are also hermaphroditic species that have combined ovotestis rather than separate testes and ovaries.

On the other hand, male scale insects have wings and legs, which makes them look like small flies. Scale insects are the close relatives of aphids, jumping plant lice, and whiteflies. In addition, scale insects are commercial pests and can be challenging to control because their waxy and scaly covering protects them from attacks.

Scale Insects

They secret wax covering once they settle on some plant for feeding themselves. As for the scales, they could be sculptured or smooth, depending on the origin family. They lay eggs, and these eggs are sheltered by the female scale insects or could be made into filaments as well. When these eggs hatch, the new insects are termed crawlers and disperse all over the plants before they select a feeding place.

The female adult scale insects have reduced antennae and legs and generally don’t have wings. On the other hand, male scale insects have delicate wings while their antennae and legs are properly developed. Not to forget, there are hardly any mouthparts there.

Why Do Scale Insects Cluster Up In Your Home?

The scale insects are generally common in greenhouses and gardens, but they also get into homes and live on house plants. They tend to make rounds in the home. So, if scale insects are clustering up in your home, it simply means that you have a lot of plants. They are visible on the plants and tend to drain sap from the plants. Some symptoms of scale insect infestation include;

  • Look for the bumps and scales on the leaves and stems of the plants
  • Check out for the white and small waxy clusters (this will be common during the early summer season)
  • Check the leaves and see if they have some sticky substance on the upper part (it’s honeydew)
  • Slow or low plant growth

How To Get Rid Of Scale Insects?

With extensive infestation, the scale insects can do colossal damage. For this reason, controlling scale insects is crucial and getting rid of scale insects is possible by following the below-mentioned steps;

  • Make sure you check the new plants because these scale insects are immobile. So, whenever you purchase a new plant, do a thorough check and make sure you aren’t bringing home some scale insects
  • To make sure that the infestation doesn’t spread anymore, you must separate the infected plants until you’ve fixed the infestation
  • If the infestation is low, you can use the alcohol-soaked cotton bud and rub off the scale insects. In addition, you can wear gloves and pick them off with your hands
  • If you can identify the infestation in its early phase, you need to prune the infected area and dispose of them at a distance
  • If the scale insects have attacked your outdoor plants, you can get some parasitic wasps or ladybugs because they eat up the scale insects
  • You can opt for the horticultural oil because it can smother the insects, even the mature ones

Where Do Scale Insects Come From?

The scale insects are common in outdoor bushes, fruit trees, and ornamental plants. Some of them also infect the house plants, greenhouses, and other sheltered areas. This means that they come outsides, generally from nurseries, so don’t forget to check the plants before you plant them.

Will Scale Insects Sting Or Bite Me?

Yes, they can sting you if they feel attacked or feel a threat. In some cases, they might also spray some venom on the wound.

How Bad Is The Sting Of A Scale Insect?

Honestly, they don’t sting much, but if you attack them, they might end up stinging you. Also, the sting can be painful, but it goes away within an hour or two. If you get stung by the scale insect, it’s suggested that you clean it with water and use a cold compress.

Are Scale Insects Destructive?

Yes, scale insects are destructive to plants. In the majority of cases, they are found in a warm climates. Also, if they find a space on some plant, they will consume the sap, and the plant will weaken down. In particular, they are likely to infect cherry trees, bay trees, and cyclamen. When they consume sap, the plant’s leaves will turn yellow or might even wilt. As a result, the plants will show stunted growth. In more complicated situations, the plants can die.

Why Are Scale Insects Bad?

Yes, they are bad, but for the plants particularly. They don’t attack wood, so it doesn’t destroy the home structures, but their infestation can kill the plants. For instance, it can lead to slow plant growth, and some plants even die.