Scale Insects on Trees: The Impact of an Infestation

Scale insects on trees are not something you want to have to deal with. 

They’re waxy insects that pierce trees with their mouths and suck sap from them. This makes it more difficult for trees to maintain moisture and nutrients in the short term. The honeydew that scale excretes onto trees can provide sustenance for sooty mold that can cause further infestations and damage to trees. 

There are more than 60 varieties that occur in Michigan, and many times they are not noticed or are ignored until tree or shrub branches start to die. So, let’s take a look at some of the negative effects scale infestations can have on tree health and the importance of applying treatments as quickly as possible.

Types of Scale Insects

Soft (Lecanium), kermes, and bark scales produce honeydew. These scales feed directly on plant parts that transport fluid and nutrients. This can reduce plant growth and cause leaf drop or branch dieback. The most common symptom of soft scale infestation is an accumulation of honeydew and sooty mold on or beneath a plant.

Armored scales do not produce honeydew. The armored scale’s straw-like mouth moves like a plumber’s snake to burst plant cells and feed on their contents. This can reduce plant growth and vigor. Common symptoms of infestation include premature leaf drop and branch dieback.  

Pit scales are likely to do the same to the raised plant tissue that surrounds them. If there are large numbers of scale, the pits coalesce, making the twig surface appear dimpled and roughened. Feeding by oak pit scales can kill twigs and the dead leaves remain on infested twigs through the winter. 

The Juniper scale is a very common and sometimes serious pest of juniper. They are light gray or white, very small, and nearly circular. They like to attach themselves to the underside of the needles, rather than the bark. 

One of the first signs of an infestation is when leaves on individual branches begin losing their color and may eventually die.

Lecanium scale and Cottony Maple scale are the most common in Southeast Michigan. They will cover the branches of silver maple, honeylocust, and many other species of hardwood trees in our area.

The biggest problem comes from the droplets of honeydew raining down from infested trees in May and early June. Honeydew is the sugary liquid waste excreted by scale insects. A considerable amount of honeydew is excreted because scale insects need to suck a lot of sap from trees in order to get the amount of protein they need for growth and development.

Another problem that can develop is mold. The honeydew is often mistaken for tree sap as it covers cars and buildings under infested trees. The accumulation of honeydew can lead to the growth of black, sooty mold. Finding sooty mold under a plant is often the first indication that there are scale insects, but it may also indicate aphids and other sucking insects.

Scale infestations rarely kill trees but can damage them and be especially hard on young trees. Even the most mature trees that are infested can become thin and experience branch dieback. And repeated heavy Lecanium scale infestations can kill branches or crown dieback in trees. 

When Do Scale Insects Appear?

There are typically two times of the year that scale insects become active. It’s because there are two generations in Michigan. The first hatching in early to mid-June, and the second in late July or early August. 

How To Control Scale Insects

The good news is that there are ways to control scale populations. These natural predators can be held in check, even after you’ve noticed eggs on your trees and shrubs. A proactive approach is best. 

But keep this in mind, scale insects are not easy to control with traditional contact insecticides because of the covering that protects their bodies.

The most effective control strategy is to spray with insecticides, beginning at egg hatch, when the so-called crawlers first appear. Use insecticides during the hatching period when crawlers are first observed will provide maximum effectiveness.

You don’t have to let scale insects destroy your trees! If you’d like to find out how to get them under control or from ever showing up in the first place, feel free to contact Safari Tree. One of our professional arborists will be happy to give you a rundown of the quick, effective treatment and prevention services we offer.

What Is the Best Way to Control Mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes can make the spring, summer, and fall months absolutely miserable, especially if your home is near a body of water. And while bug zappers and insect repellents are more of a temporary fix, the best way to control mosquitoes is to form a barrier on your property.

But how do you do that?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways to keep them at bay.

Why Treat For Mosquitoes?

Before we talk about controlling mosquitoes around your home, it’s important to understand the reasons why you should keep your mosquito population from getting too big. First, they’re a nuisance. No matter where you go or what you do, they’ll find you and bite. 

Secondly, mosquitoes can transmit a number of different infectious diseases, many of which cause long-term health problems or can be fatal. After they get a piece of you, they travel from host to host, transmitting mosquito-borne diseases, diseases found in Southeast Michigan include:

  • West Nile Virus
  • Zika
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis 

Mosquitoes can also affect the local economy. If you live in an area that’s prone to mosquitoes, it can hurt home values and tourism dollars. 

Mosquito Breeding Grounds To Look For

There are a few things that attract mosquitoes to be aware of so you can start to reduce your mosquito population. The first step in doing this is to control the areas in which they like to breed.

Mosquitoes can breed anywhere with standing water. As long as there is an inch or more of water, mosquitoes will lay their eggs. 

You can prevent a mosquito problem by removing water sources, including:

  • Ponds
  • Swimming pools
  • Birdbaths 
  • Puddles 

Essentially, areas where their eggs won’t wash downstream. And remember, mosquitoes understand that water can evaporate at a rapid rate, so they often search for deep pools of water to lay their eggs.

Best Way To Control Mosquitoes

To reduce mosquito numbers around your home, form a barrier between you and the bugs. 

While at-home sprays can help temporarily ward off mosquitoes, the best way to control mosquitoes is to have a professional apply a powerful spray. That way, you’ll have a barrier in place that prevents mosquitoes from entering backyards in the first place — versus having to fight these insects off after they’re inside the “fence,” so to speak. 

A professional team will also know exactly what type of insecticide to use and where to place it. 

They’re trained to locate and eliminate your mosquito problem at its source.

Investing in a professional mosquito spray treatment, like those offered by Safari Tree, can protect you and your family all season long.

Our mosquito control is GUARANTEED to kill mosquito larvae. We use ​proven methods to do this, as well as natural mosquito control. It’s a powerful mist treatment that covers your property without jeopardizing safety.

Contact Safari Tree’s professional pest control services today to get a free estimate.