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Soft Scales generally refers to members of one family, the Coccidae .The variety of forms and colors displayed within the family, however, has resulted in more descriptive common names for certain groups of coccids.
Soft scales usually cover themselves with wax, but they lack the detachable protective cover for which armored scales are named. Most soft scales overwinter as immature, fertilized females. In spring they resume feeding, mature and lay eggs. These hatch into tiny crawlers. After locating suitable feeding sites, crawlers settle and begin feeding. Some species lose their legs once theyâ€™ve settled.
These are the types of softscales, Magnolia Scale (Neolecanium cornuparvum),Fletcher Scale (Parthenolecanium fletcheri),Cottony Maple Scale (Pulvinaria innumerabilis),Oak Kermes Scale (Kermes galliformis).
Life Cycle : Soft scales have one generation each year and overwinter as second-instar nymphs. The multi-generational brown soft scale is an important exception Brown soft scale females and nymphs of various size can be present throughout the year. Most immature soft scales retain their barely visible legs and antennae after settling and are able to move, although slowly. At maturity, females of certain soft scales, the woolly sac scales , and some other species produce distinct external cottony or wax-covered egg masses.
Damage :Symptoms of scale injury are very apparent in the spring, when the leaves are beginning to break bud. Delayed leaf expansion or early leaf drop on all or part of a tree are common symptoms. Look for groups of bumps or encrustations on twigs and trunks. If you can flip a bump off a twig with your thumbnail without disturbing the plant tissue below, then the bump is a scale, otherwise it is a gall.
Soft scale infestations are often accompanied by the presence of honeydew and sooty mold. Bumps produced by soft scales can be either smooth or cottony in texture. Whereas, armored scales produce a waxy cover that varies in shape from circular to tear drop in shape. Armored scales do not produce honeydew
Managament: Scales are often well controlled by beneficial predators and parasites, except when these natural enemies are disrupted by ants, dust, or application of persistent broad-spectrum insecticides. Preserving (conserving) the populations of parasites and predators (such as by controlling pest-tending ants) may be enough to bring about gradual control of scales as natural enemies become more abundant.
If scales become too numerous, a well-timed and thorough spray using horticultural (narrow-range) oil applied either during the dormant season or soon after scale crawlers are active in late winter to early summer should provide good control. Complete spray coverage of infested plants (such as the underside of leaves) is needed to obtain good control. Thorough spray coverage is especially critical when treating armored scales and oak pit scales, as these scales are generally less susceptible to pesticides than soft scales.
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