Scale is another common pest that can cause a nuisance with your plant collection. In their lifetime of twelve weeks, they can lay up to three hundred eggs. Most larvae will only take five weeks to be able to reproduce.
The individual Scale is a small, armour-shaped critter that’ll stay local to the hatching ground for many months. Scale can be brown, orange or even white, and measure around 0.4cm when matured. The critters will attach themselves to the foliage, stem and/or body of the cactus or succulent. Unlike Mealybugs and Spider Mites, this pest won’t produce a web to protect their eggs and instead will leave sticky patches from their excretions. In some cases, these areas will become black and remain sticky, caused by a fungus called ‘Sooty Mould’. Although this is mostly harmless to the plant, it can reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesise, thus weakening its health over time.
- Scan your plant from head to toe. Check all sides of the succulent, including its spines, body, leaves, and stem.
- For prickly cacti, it’s best to use an old toothbrush to brush off any critters or their eggs slowly. If you can physically use your fingernail to scrape them off, this is best as you can gain a feel into how hard you’ll need to press. Be careful not to puncture your cacti’s skin when using a toothbrush. With your fingernails, gently remove the bugs. Smaller larvae may bury themselves in tight nooks within the plant, so it’s essential to scan the WHOLE plant from the soil line upwards. Use a warm damp cloth to wipe away areas that have the sticky substance or Sooty Mould.
- Gently hose the entire plant - its stem, leaves, and any potential hiding spot.
- Keep the plant in a warm, bright room away from other specimens to dry-off. If the temperature is above 15℃ at night, keep it outside to recover naturally.
- You can administer a pesticide once the foliage thoroughly dries from being hosed down. We recommend using an organic product first, for instance, Neem Oil or watered-down D.E. powder.
- Keep the affected plant in a quarantined room until the symptoms have subsided for at least six weeks. In some cases, dormant eggs may hatch several months after deeming the specimen pest-free, so it’s always important to keep an eye out for a potential relapse. Keep other, non-affected specimens safe by distancing the pest ridden plant at least a metre away from others.