Most Common Types Of Scale Insects: How To Identify & Control Them.

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Scale insects are tiny creatures that can be found feeding on the sap of plants. There are many different types of scale insects, and they can cause significant damage to plants.

Identification and control of scale insects are important for protecting your garden or landscape. In this article, we will discuss the most common types of scale insects and how to identify and control them.

What are scale insects?

Scale insects are a type of garden and indoor plant pest that can cause significant damage to plants. They are small, sap-sucking insects that attach themselves to the stems or leaves of plants. They can be difficult to identify and control.

types of scale insects

They can be very destructive as they feed on the sap and nutrients running through the plant. This can cause the plant to wilt, die, and even fall off the tree.

These insects can be found on various plants, including trees, shrubs, and perennials. They may be found on the leaves, bark, or other parts of the plant, such as the fruit. Feeding by scale insects can damage the plant and decrease production.

How to identify scale insects?

Scale insects are a category of insects that are characterized by the presence of scales on their bodies. These scales make them look somewhat like reptiles and can be used to help identify them.

Most scale insects are wingless, though there are a few species that have wings. They can be found in a variety of environments and can cause damage to crops and other plants.

Adult males and females of scale insects can be easily distinguished by their shapes. Male scale insects have a different shape than females, and they are usually much smaller in size. Females are usually larger in size than males and have a more elongated body.

Even though scale insects come in many shapes and sizes, there are a few key characteristics that can help identify them. For one, male scale insects usually have one pair of wings and a pair of long antennae.

Secondly, all scale insects lack males and reproduce by laying eggs. Lastly, these pests often secrete honeydew, which is a sticky substance that attracts ants.

Life Cycle

Scale insects go through a life cycle that includes hatching from eggs, growing through two nymphal instars, and becoming adults.

This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the species of scale insect.

Once they reach adulthood, scale insects reproduce and lay eggs. These eggs hatch into new nymphs, which then go through the same life cycle.

The eggs are laid on the plant and hatch into crawlers that walk across the plant’s surface or are transported to other plants by wind, people, or birds.

Settled nymphs may reside in the same spot throughout adulthood, or they may slowly move about. When they mature into adults, they lay eggs, and the cycle repeats.

Most Common Types of Scale Insects

Scale insects are a type of insect that can be found all over the world. There are two main scale insects- armored scales and soft scales. Armored scales have a hard outer shell, while soft scales do not.

They can cause damage to plants by sucking sap from them, which can lead to wilting or even death. They can be controlled through various methods, including chemical treatments and manual removal.

Let us understand both types in detail.

Armored scales

Armored scales are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on the sap of individual plant cells. They can be difficult to identify and control. They can be the cause of significant damage to plants if left untreated.

They are identifiable by their white encasing, which stands out against the green needles of the tree. They feed on sap from the tree and can cause damage.

They often overwinter in either the nymph or female adult stage, making them more resistant to treatment. Additionally, they excrete a sticky substance that can damage plants and make them more susceptible to other pests and diseases.

Armored scales are so called because they have a hard outer shell that protects them from predators and environmental threats. These scales can be difficult to remove and often go undetected until they cause significant damage to the plant.

Soft scales

There are a variety of different types of scale insects, and they can be found in many different places. One common type is the soft scale.

Soft scales are sap-feeding insects that feed on more than just individual plant cells, specifically feeding on phloem tissue found in trees and shrubs. They can be the cause of significant damage to plants if left untreated.

They are larger than armored scales and usually range in size from one-eighth of an inch to one-fourth of an inch in length. Unlike armored scales, they do not have a hard outer shell and can be more difficult to get rid of.

Soft scales are distinguishable from other types of scale insects because they secrete honeydew. Honeydew is a sticky substance that attracts sooty mold and other pests. You may also see ants, wasps, and whiteflies around soft scales to feed on the honeydew.

Because they retain their legs, they can also move around more easily than armored scales. But there is still very little and slow movement.

Controlling Scale Insects

There are a variety of ways to control scale insects, depending on the species. Methods include cultural controls, physical removal, biological controls, and chemical controls.

Scale insects can cause a lot of damage to a plant, but they can be eliminated using a variety of methods. Horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, and Bt are all effective in controlling scale insects.

Let us learn about the methods in detail.

Cultural Control

One of the most common ways to control scale insects is through cultural methods. This includes replacing plants that are susceptible to scale with ones that are resistant, as well as keeping the area clean and free of pests.

This includes things like inspecting plants regularly for signs of infestation and removing any insects you find with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

You can also try increasing air circulation around your plants or watering them from below to discourage these pests.

Hand-removal of individual scale insects is possible if they are discovered early. If the infestation is more severe, then chemical control may be necessary.

There are a variety of different types of scale insects, and each one requires a different method of control. By identifying the type of scale insect you are dealing with, you can make sure to use the most effective method for eradicating them.

Biological Removal of Scale Insects

Scale insects are common garden pests that can cause extensive damage to plants. There are a variety of ways to control them, but the most effective is often through biological methods, like using beneficial or predatory insects or introducing plant-hosting enemies into the garden.

It is also important to keep your plants free of dust, as this will deter these helpful creatures from hanging around.

If you are using biological control, it is important to be able to identify the different types of scale insects.

You should also take steps to prevent ants from getting into the area where you have scale insects, as they can interfere with the effectiveness of biological control methods.

Insecticidal Removal of Scale Insects

Insecticidal removal of scale insects should be the last resort when all other methods have failed.

Before you spray, make sure to create a healthy habitat for beneficial insects that will help control the population of scale insects. This will help reduce the number of insecticides needed and keep your plants healthy.

Horticultural oil sprays can be sprayed on plants in dormancy, which will help to kill any overwintering scale insects.

Furthermore, another way is to use systemic insecticides, which are a form of chemical control. These methods are less expensive and can be more effective than hiring an exterminator.


Hopefully, by the information provided in this article, you will be well aware of the various types of scale insects as well as their control method.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.