What’s wrong with my tree? Hard scale

Hard scale is a type of tree scale

Hard scale refers to a type of scale insect that infests and feeds on trees. Scale insects are small, sap-feeding insects that belong to the order Hemiptera. The term “hard scale” specifically refers to scale insects that have a hard, armor-like covering made of a tough substance called chitin. This covering provides them with additional protection and makes them more difficult to control compared to other types of scale insects.

hard scale
John .A. Davidson, Univ. Md, College Pk, Bugwood.org

Hard, or armored, scale is one of the two common scale families: Hard and soft.

  • Oystershell scale
  • Magnolia scale
  • Pine needle scale

Signs and symptoms of hard scale

Unlike their soft cousins, hard scale doesn’t produce honeydew. They can also weaken the tree, leading to stunted growth, yellowing or wilting of leaves, and even death in severe cases. Additionally, the waxy covering they produce can create a barrier that prevents proper airflow and sunlight penetration, further harming the tree.

Controlling hard scale in your trees

Controlling hard scale infestations typically involves a combination of techniques such as pruning affected branches, physically removing the scales, and using insecticides or biological controls targeted at the specific life stages of the insects. It’s important to identify and address scale infestations promptly to prevent further damage to trees and promote their overall health.

Before treating your trees for suspected scale, hire an ISA-certified arborist to inspect your trees to determine the problem and recommend the correct treatment.

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