The Q&A Archives: Scales

Question: I have used eco-friendly insecticide soap and insecticide regular sprays. I now have applied a 6 month Bayer fertilizer/insecticide preventative to the soil but they still live! My goodness these things never die! They are living on my Fukien Tea bonsai but I think I need some regular old kicking spray. Any suggestions? It's 82 degrees outdoors right now where I live in Naples, FL, fyi.

Answer: Scale insects are really difficult to control but if you are persistent, you can get the upper hand. There are two options: smother them with horticultural oil or swab them with rubbing alcohol. Horticultural oil is safe for most plants but with your Fukien Tea it might be best to use a small paintbrush to apply the horticultural oil directly on the scales rather than spray the plant - the leaves may be sensitive to the oil. Or, you can simply dab each scale insect with a brush dipped in rubbing alcohol. The alcohol will dissolve the scale's hard outer coating and expose them to the elements where they will quickly dehydrate and die. Plan on repeating the procedure in about 10 days. The scales should fall off or be easy to peel off your plant after the treatment. Best wishes with your garden!

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