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.

Why You Should Invest in a Flea and Tick Yard Treatment

Fleas and ticks can be incredibly harmful to dogs, cats and humans, too. But it’s only part of the reason you should consider a flea and tick yard treatment. From the diseases they transmit to the allergic reactions they can cause for you and your pets alike, fleas and ticks need to be kept out of yards, as this is often where infestations start.

With warming temps approaching, summer is prime time for flea and tick infestations. They thrive in warm, humid climates and can find their way to your pets in the most common environments — on a walk, a trip to the park, and in your own backyard.

Let’s take a look at some flea and tick yard treatments that can help protect you and your pets all summer long.

Where Flea And Tick Control Starts

flea and tick control

If you see an occasional mouse running through your yard, you should be on alert. Rodents are big carriers, and it’s not just mice. Rats and those cute little chipmunks are carriers, too. Their passengers will attach themselves to you and your pet, and then they’re inside your home.

You’ll want to pay attention to your dog and outdoor cats. If you see them scratching constantly, there’s a good chance you’ll start finding fleas and you’ll need to treat your yard. Remember that very few flea and tick infestations will come directly from your pet. The vast majority of them usually start outside your home. This is why it’s critical to not only treat your pet for fleas but also your yard.

Do it Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Like anything in your yard, you can chose a DIY solution or go with a professional.  If you chose to do it yourself, one of the first things you might want to try to curb your tick and flea infestation is an over-the-counter yard spray. This ready-to-spray, hose-end treatment kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other listed insects. Manufacturers claim they can kill adult fleas outdoors for up to 12 weeks.

 

Another options is cinnamon oil, which is a highly concentrated essential oil that kills ticks on contact by smothering them. For best results, you should apply it in early spring. You spray the diluted solution and spray it on your lawn, but beware. While cinnamon oil is a safe, non-toxic choice for tick control in your yard, always use caution when working with or mixing this product. In some cases, humans and pets who come in contact with cinnamon oil experience contact dermatitis. 

You also have to make sure that your lawn is properly hydrated and not under water stress before applying cinnamon oil. If you don’t, you could damage your turf.

While both of these solutions do work, the treatments can be challenging to apply correctly to achieve good results, and they do not last as long as treatments professionally applied.

This is why the safest, most effective route to take is a professional flea and tick yard treatment, like a dormant oil spray. It can be applied to trees around your yard, they don’t leave behind a toxic residue and dissipate quickly.

Professional Flea And Tick Yard Treatments Are Best 

Flea and tick control in Southeast Michigan can be challenging. That’s why investing in a professional flea and tick yard treatment works best. This integrated pest management approach involves inspection, then targeting eggs, tick and flea larvae and adults with the appropriate insecticides.  

If you’re a pet owner, you need to be extra vigilant about flea and tick control for both yourself and your pets. A professional treatment will help keep your family and pets safe from these harmful insects and help you to feel more comfortable in your outdoor space.  

Safari Tree flea and tick treatments attack your infestation at the source. And without the onslaught of bugs, you’ll be able to use your yard regularly, instead of running for cover.