Holly bush problem - Knowledgebase Question

Marblehead, Ma (Zone 6b)
I need some help, Please.
Avatar for GardenWalkerJJJ
Question by GardenWalkerJJJ
September 9, 2010
Good morning:

I have thousands of little white insects, larvae? attached to the undersides of my Holly Bush leaves. They are about the size of a piece of rice, but flat. What could they be, and what is the solution for getting rid of them? Also, many of the leaves have turned black.

Thank you very much, Jody Magee

Answer from NGA
September 9, 2010
Photo by terrafirma
What you describe sound like scale insects. When scale or mealybug or aphid insects feed on the fluids within the tissues of a plant they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. As the honeydew ages it turns black and is called sooty mold. The black material is harmless to your plants but it does indicate there's a large population of insects. Once you control the insect pests, the sooty mold will weather away. You can use a neem oil or pyrethrum based insecticide to control the scale insects. You'll need to carefully spray the undersides of the leaves of your holly. Or, you can use a systemic insecticide as a soil drench. As the insecticide is taken up by the roots it is transported to every cell in the plant. When the insects feed on the fluids within the tissues of the leaves they get a dose of poison. Systemic insecticides include Merit and Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control. Which ever direction you decide to take, be sure to apply according to label directions. Good luck with your holly.

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