–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd
The European fruit lecanium scale (Parthenolecanium cornii) is quite noticeable on bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) twigs and branches. The damage associated with this scale, which depends on the extensiveness of the infestation, includes plant stunting and wilting. The European fruit lecanium scale is a soft scale, so honeydew (a sticky, clear liquid) will be produced during feeding. The honeydew serves as a substrate for black sooty mold and attracts ants. In addition, honeydew can drip onto vehicles parked underneath infested trees leaving unsightly residue.
The scales are dark brown, 1/8 to 1/4 inches in diameter (Figures 1 and 2). Some scales may have white markings on the body. European fruit lecanium scale overwinters as an immature on twigs and branches with maturing occurring in spring. In May and June, females lay many eggs underneath their bodies. In June eggs hatch into small tan-colored crawlers. The duration of an egg hatch can last several days depending on the temperature. Crawlers migrate to leaf undersides and subsequently feed on plant fluids until late summer. At that point, the crawlers migrate back onto twigs and branches to complete their development the following spring. There is one generation per year in Kansas.
Management of European fruit lecanium scale primarily involves timely applications of insecticides. Applications should be made when crawlers are present because the crawlers are most vulnerable life stage to insecticide sprays. Mature scales possess a shell-like covering that protects them from exposure to insecticides. Repeat applications will be required as the eggs do not all hatch simultaneously but may hatch over a three to four-week period. The most appropriate time to apply insecticides is in late June to early July when the crawlers are feeding on leaves; thus enhancing their exposure to any spray residues. There are a number of insecticides, with contact activity that are effective in suppressing populations of the European fruit lecanium scale. However, many have broad-spectrum activity and will kill many natural enemies including: parasitoids and predators. In fact, most out-breaks of scale insects are caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides (insecticides and miticides). Therefore, always read the label and exercise caution when applying any pesticide. In the winter, dormant oils can be applied to kill overwintering scales by means of suffocation.
I need to acknowledge Jeff Otto of Wichita, KS for bringing to my attention that European fruit lecanium scale was active. I have also observed infestations in Manhattan, KS.