garden pests : scale bug edition
so, these little lumps appearing on your leaves... they're not a vitamin deficiency. they're not a new way your plant is growing for you to propagate. they're pests; scale bugs.
these little lumps come in all varieties.
armored shell (what we're dealing with in this specific post)
these scales are very good at protecting themselves and their offspring. they lay their eggs under their shells, so any spray you apply will never make it to the bugs or their eggs.
these scales are a little easier to eradicate with sprays, but can still be difficult when they take over a plant en masse.
mealybugs are also softer and susceptible to spraying, but they can reproduce quickly and take over a plant quick-style.
what do they do?
some secrete honeydew, attracting other pests and mold can effect the plant's growth by blocking photosynthesis.
where do they live?
they mostly love the underside of your leaves and it tight little crevices, and can wreak havoc on a plant.
how do they get around?
they don't fly, but they can catch a gust in the wind, or ride along on parts of a bird. our black mondo grass is proof of this because it was in long planters along the balcony on our third floor, and they were making quite the little city. they will also crawl around from plant to plant, and once they find their spot on the leaf, they stay, suck out the nutrients, and create more little scale bugs.
preventing the scale bugs
the scale bugs are attracted to very moist locations, so to start, don't over water your plants. if areas in your yard, or potted plants seem soggy, time to tame down the watering, or you're going to have several pests you don't want.
spraying plants a few times a year with neem oil, or some sort of horticulture oil, will deter the scale from making a home out of your plant.
how to get rid of the scale bugs
because scale bugs typically have a hard shell around them, simply spraying them with some sort of oil or soapy water, doesn't quite do the trick.
if there are just a few here and there on your leaves, you can simply just wipe them off.
they may be in hard to reach spots and down where the plant comes out of the dirt... and it that case, you may want to take the plants out of the pots, and hose them down with high water pressure (i used the fan nozzle) to shoot the little pests off of the leaves and stems, and out of the nooks and crannies.
as you can see, i literally cleaned the entire plant, including the roots. i had a staging area for plants i took out of the dirt, and area to clean off the pests, and an area to put cleaned plants. then i sprayed all of the cleaned plants with neem oil and planted them in fresh soil. now, months later, they as happy as can be. they may show a little trauma after the major cleaning, but wouldn't you if you were pressure washed?
since then, there have been no more scale on the mondo grass. we do get a few here and there on the fruit trees, and those i try to just wipe off, and maybe prune a few branches when needed.
the beautiful thing about gardening, is i am constantly learning something new. there are so many things to keep track of, things to notice, and things to not do, even a small garden can really introduce you to the life of a garden + farmer.