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Fletcher scale, sometimes referred to as the arborvitae soft scale, is a common pest of arborvitae, Thuja spp. and yew, Taxus spp. It has also been reported to attack juniper, Juniperus spp., cypress, Cupressus spp., and hemlock, Tsuga spp. Occasionally, Fletcher scale is sometimes confused with the European fruit lecanium. Host plant association may provide assistance in accurate identification since Fletcher scale usually attacks arborvitae and especially yew.
Eggs hatch into oval, flat, amber to yellow first instar nymphs called crawlers. Adult females are yellowish brown to tan, almost hemispherical, and about 2-4 mm in diameter . Males are unknown for this species.
Life cycle:This pest overwinters as second instar nymphs. They develop rapidly in the spring. Adult females normally are found on the twigs and stems of the host plant. Females start laying eggs in late May. One female may deposit an average of 500-600 eggs. These hatch in June into crawlers that migrate a short distance on a branch in search of a feeding site. They remain on the host plant for the remainder of the season. This species reproduces by parthenogenesis. One generation is produced each growing season in New york.
Damage:Natural controls (parasitoids, predators, pathogens, environmental conditions) usually maintain scale populations below damaging levels. Also, maintaining healthy, vigorous plants through proper watering, fertilization and pruning , will often increase a plantâ€™s ability to withstand pest pressure. However, under certain circumstances, scale populations can increase and become injurious. Once scales begin adversely affecting plant health, management measures should be taken.Scale insects cause damage by removing vital plant fluids from their hosts using their sucking mouth parts.
Leaf and needle stunting and yellowing, twig and branch dieback as well as plant death are possible depending on population levels. In some instances, scales weaken plants making them susceptible to damage from secondary pests such as borers or environmental extremes, which may ultimately kill the plant.Scales can also create nuisance problems by producing a sticky, sweet substance called honeydew, which they secrete while feeding. The stickiness and associated black sooty mold that grows on the honeydew can be an annoyance if cars, patio furniture, decks, etc., are underneath scale-infested trees.
Control:Dormant oils are effective on the overwintering stage of most species, but they can only be applied in early spring before leaves appear. Adult scales are protected from insecticides by waxy coverings. Control measures, therefore, must be aimed at unprotected immatures (crawlers) or the overwintering stage. During the summer, control requires accurate identification of the pest species so that hatching dates of crawlers can be determined. Once the pest is identified and proper timing known, any one of several common insecticides can be used. Consult your local Extension Agent for current insecticide recommendations.
All stages of this scale feed on stems and branches of juniper and yew. Adult females are 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. Flattened in the early stages, they later swell to a hemispherical shape. Young females are brown with yellow stripes and a yellow border; older females darken to a solid medium brown. The closely related European fruit lecanium, Parthenolecanium corni, also is reported to occur on juniper.
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