The Q&A Archives: Controlling Scale Insects on Raspberry

Question: We have had a raspberry plant for about 8 years and I recently found some bugs on the lower part of the stalks. They appeared to be attached to the stalk and blended in very well. They were oval-shaped and popped when I poked them with a stick. Can you please identify these bugs and help me find a solution that doesn't involve chemicals? Also, I have heard that boiling a cigar in water and spraying the tobacco water is an effective bug killer. Is this a good idea and will it affect the taste ofthe rasperries (now beginning to flower)? Thank you. Jonathan Bellmore, NY

Answer: It sounds like your faithful raspberry is being invaded by a scale insect of some sort. The home-made solution of tobacco juice is actually a wide-spectrum poison (to good bugs, humans and other mammals, too!). Gardens Alive (5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025; 812/537-8650) carries Eco-oil, a spray that suffocates the insects. Your local garden center may sell it as well. Do you prune your raspberry every year? If the scale is on old canes, you may simply need to prune them out, since canes that fruited last year will not bear again this year. If you need any instructions on pruning, let me know!

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