The Q&A Archives: Scales on lemon tree

Question: My six year old Meyer lemon tree has been growing beautifully in a southern window, but I've noticed scales on the leaves and branches. What can I do? Sharon Falatoris Michigan City, IN

Answer: Spraying summer oil should take care of the scale, says Paul Moore, citrus editor for the Indoor Citrus and Rare Fruit Society in Los Altos, California. Scale are small, circular, brown , white or red shelled insects appearing as bumps on stems and leaves. Summer oil suffocates the immobile adult scale and residues usually kill any mobile larvae 'crawlers.' The oil is very similar to mineral oil and is nontoxic to citrus trees, pets or people. Spray once at a 1% to 2% dilution rate, making sure tocover the entire plant, says Moore. The adults may die, but not fall off the leaves or stems, says Moore. If they're still juicy, they're alive; if dry, then they're dead. Avoid spraying summer oil on citrus if temperatures are expected to reach above 90oF for a few days after spraying, or you may get leaf drop, he adds.

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