White pest on holly bushes

Asked June 1, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT

I have noticed white rod-shaped debris on my holly bushes the past few summers. I took a closer look the other day, and saw a few live bugs. What are they, are they dangerous to the bushes, and if so, is there a treatment for them? Also, will any treatment affect nearby vegetable plants and berry bushes?

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

These white pests are called cottony camellia scale, this soft scale is common on holly. What is objectionable is the honeydew and black sooty mold that appears on the lower leaves. The scale sucks plant sap.They will not travel to nearby vegetables or berry bushes. If infestations are light ,the beneficial insects will keep them in check. The presents of black sooty mold will indicate a high population and may require treatment. A summer weight horticultural oil or soap can be applied at this time of year.