The Q&A Archives: How do I rid my potato vine of a parasite?

Question: I have a potato vine that has been growing very well, but recently developed parasitic growths. It doesn't appear to be a fungus. It looks like clusters of barnicle-like growths along the main stalks. When removed, one appeared to have a worm-like insect. The others, when peeled away, had a redish substance, almost sap-like. What is this parasite, and how do I control it? The plant itself appears healthy as if these growths don't affect it.

Answer: What you describe sound like scale insects. If there aren't too many, you can pry them off your plant. If the population is large, you may need to spray a pesticide. There's a botanical containing pyrethrum that's effective, or you could use Orthene or Bendiocarb (Dicarb, Turcam) against these insect pests. Be sure to read the label and apply according to directions. Not all pesticides are safe to use on all plants; make sure your plant and the insect you're targeting are both listed on the label. Otherwise, the spray could harm your plant (and be ineffective against the pest). Best wishes with your potato vine!

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