Scale...Scale and more Scale...Ugh! and of course 100 trillion Ants!

Well I think the day has finally come…I must find other means to control the scale, leaf miners, aphids and those stupid ants!

In the past I have just used my hose and fingers to squish and blast them off but it is just too much now. Trees are bigger and have too many :).

What are your opinions on a systemic? Seems to be the easiest but I am nervous about the impacts of them (Not educated enough in that department).

Or should I attempt to use the less harmful sprays like neem oil or spinsad?

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I use Neem oil, and a healthy ring of Tangle Foot around the base.
Seems to work.

Thank you. Does the tangle foot apply directly to the tree? Should I worry about my cats becoming one with the trees? :wink:

Do you just follow what the labels say or are there any tricks?

Try the oil and other insecticides first. Oil works well if you can get good coverage and the oil doesn’t harm fruit or leaves. Some scale is easily killed by many mild insecticides. Others have built up resistance.

I tried the systemics and was not impressed with control of scale on citrus trees. Reason there was I couldn’t get full coverage with oil so they came back. I also killed my bumblebees used to pollinate greenhouse fruits. On citrus that shouldn’t be an issue.

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I’ve used neem and also insecticidal soap

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My pink lemonade lemon has the white fluffy kind that are disgusting. I thought I had squished them all but looked again yesterday and more have reared their ugly heads! The other trees have the little orange and brown shell type.

I was leaning towards your approach …just didn’t know if the systemics have gotten any safer over the years.

I have a small dog and he’s never gone near it. If you just use insecticidal soap, and Neem oil, they’ll be back. Normally within a week or two.

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I also had the white fluffy ones that I also tried squishing…and they also came back. I diluted some neem into water and painted the area where they kept returning with paintbrush and they never came back. I didn’t have the ant problem because I used tanglefoot at the beginning of the season. Search tanglefoot on this site and there are good suggestions.
I didn’t do the tanglefoot on my figs and had a problem with ants until I made a little solution of borax and sugar to leave at the base (or you can buy the Terro outside ant traps) and no more problem. They are more convenient than Tanglefoot and I may try them next year on some of the trees.

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Here’s a video from Alex Silber’s (Papaya Tree Nursery) website about the right way to apply Tanglefoot. The video has good information on it, just skip around if it’s going too slow.

Also, when a generation of young scale (crawlers) are spreading away from their mothers, they are very vulnerable and easy to kill(ie…spray them with rubbing alcohol). You can spot them with a magnifying glass or by using double sticky tape on a branch that’s infested with scale.


Controlling ants seems to significantly reduce scale issues on the trees. During dry season (summer) I use Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It’s very cheap and harmful only to ants and other small crawling insects, so I apply it liberally on the ground at any sign of ant activity. I found this to be easy to do and quite effective. Unfortunately, DE loses its potency after it becomes wet, so this method does not work during the rainy season (winter). Then I use ant baits made with spinosad/sugar solution or borax/sugar solution. I did apply Tanglefoot to a few trees, but it’s somewhat work-intensive when you have many trees, and also the thing is messy (difficult to get off your hands etc.).

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The ants are my scouts. Keep an eye on them and they’ll lead you to a scale or aphid infestation. Kill the aphids or scale and the ants disappear. I don’t think controlling the ants helps and I don’t think they spread either pest. They just feed on the honeydew. JMO

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