scale insect on houseplants

Asked October 23, 2013, 10:01 PM EDT

Hello, My schlefera and pothos plants seem to be infested with scale. The schlefera is a lot worse than the pothos and has a lot of honeydew and I can see the scale. I've tried everything "safe" I can think of - alcohol swab, neem, dawn dish soap, drowning the plants in water overnight, all to no avail. What would you recommend to get rid of these nasty bugs? I am almost to the point of tossing my plants but they are so big I and I've had them almost ten years and would really hate to do that. Thank You!

Yamhill County Oregon

1 Response

Scale insects can be challenging to manage. It sounds like you have tried a number of methods. Often if plants are highly infested it is best if the plant is disposed of. However, if you do want to keep trying, there are products on the market for scales such as insecticidal soaps or oils that are relatively "safe". Please follow the label directions for whatever product you choose. These products should be directed to the crawler stage (these are a very small, young stage that are mobile on the plant that occurs after egg hatch.) This life stage is most susceptible to control.

I am also wondering if you have tested to see if the scales you see on the leaves are still alive. Often the scales can remain on the plant long after they are dead, making the infestation look like it continues to occur. You can squish the scale on the leaves, liquid will come from the scale if still alive.

I hope this helps and thank you for using Ask an Expert.