Tuesday, 16 July 2013

battling the cottony cushion scale

the cottony cushion scale

What feeling do you get in your stomach after looking at these guys for a little while? If your answer is disgust and horror mixed with a bit of nausea then we're on the same page.

Meet the cottony cushion scale, a recent tenant on my lemon tree potted outside my front door (and also living in the neighbours' roses).  The large white textured things are the mothers with egg sacks and you can see the young crawling around and setting up their own homes.

This thing is gross... don't try to touch the plant if it's infested, as I did originally, thinking cutting of the branches would help.. they're sticky and sickly and quite big.

I've starting war with the pest seeing how the colony is getting out of control now and I've spotted emigrants on the farthest branches threatening my other plants. I went to the garden centre in the hopes of finding a natural, non-pesticide solution, but because of the temperatures, season and size of the colony they told me I had no choice and sold me Zapi Insetticida Universale Abbattente (I've since learnt that I've been completely overcharged... I don't like to badmouth on my blog, but if you want to know what garden centre NOT to go to drop me a line... I'll give you a hint, it's really really close to where I live).

I contacted my neighbour to see if I could treat her roses as well. They have a large infestation in the upper vines so it's advisable to cut the plant down a bit and only treat the areas where needed. She gave me the ok.

Out I went, moved around my plants and discovered to my horror that my chinotto plant (another citrus, with orange like fruit and very fragrant flowers) and my other lemon tree were also showing the first signs of infestation! Oh no!

I got the shears out and got rid of the worst affected branches, even though the resulting forms were less than pretty. The chinotto looks like it had a haircut at a rave.  Then I started spraying the pesticide solution on  every branch and the tops and bottoms of every leaf until the plants were dripping.  As I sprayed I saw how some of the smaller white insects lost their coating and turned orange. Yuck yuck yuck!

I have to treat the plant again in a few weeks and I'm hoping that the product works cause I'd hate to lose these plants. I'm going to give my battle a few months, and if I see I'm losing, cut all three plants right back and hope for the best next spring, but I'm hoping it wont get to that stage.

Pests really are a pest aren't they?  Have you had any experiences with them or can you gardeners out there give me some new advise?

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