schefflera has 'bugs' ... help!

vieja_gw(z7NM)September 9, 2008

I have an old schefflera that has had small brown scales on the leaves for years & I can't get rid of them!! I have tried pyrethrin spray & wiping each leaf top & bottom with 70% alcohol on cotton balls to wipe those scales away as a previous posting has suggested but nothing seems to work!! I scrape off what looks like all of the scales & spray with alcohol only to see more in a day or two. Is there something else I could do to get rid of these things ... topical or in the soil? Am afraid these scales will get to other of my house plants. Are the plants infected when they are purchased?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Have you ever tried a horticultural oil? It's easy to mix up a small batch to spray your plant with occasionally. As with the rubbing alcohol spray, be sure to get the stuff on the upper AND lower surfaces of your plant, as well as the stems.

You'll want to protect your furniture and floors from the oil sprays, but other than that, these products can be used inside.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 12:35PM
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The method usually subscribed to is dishsoap, in water and rubbing alcohol. i.e. 1 tbsp dishsoap, 20 oz water, 4 oz rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray the plant top to bottom, bottom to top making sure to cover all surfaces.
Scratch the soil and apply there as well.
Wait 10 minutes then give a thorough rinse with tepid water, covering all surfaces bottom to top, top to bottom.

This method is prescribed also be applied 3 times in a 20 day period. Today, in 10 days, again in 10 days.
The attack on pests such as al, must be with a view to kill the adults and the larvae that are constantly with the adult. Many bugs have a particular cycle from egg, to larvae, to adult. Its hoped by applying the soap and rubbing alcohol over the time period is effective to break the cycle.
But constant vigil is a must.

The use of petroleum oil as suggested above is also a rememdy as is lime sulfur.
(lime sulfur/petroleum oil (mineral oil) is the usual combo for dormant oil spraying we give our roses, deciduous trees and shrubs in spring and fall)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 5:52PM
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Thanks, Jeannie for the most welcome advise. I will take the whole plant out in the shade & try the 'recipe'. The combo you use on outdoor shrubs, trees ... would that hurt a houseplant? I also use it on outdoor things like our fruit trees.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 7:28PM
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its good that you treat your fruit trees with the dormant oil/lime sulfur. Much what you apply in spring can often reduce or do away with using other insecticides later on.
Whether such combination should be used on a houseplant I question the need or the best advice. Since the lime sulfur has such a strong odour and it must be kept in solution constantly, it might not suit your room the plant is in.
I wouldn't subscribe dormant oil combo for indoor houseplants.
At least, if you have tried other remedies without success, I would suggest you try using on a leaf or a branch and wait for a time to see if there is any ensuing dire result from its use.
During treatment, because water is almost always a part of the mix, it can add to an already watered plant. You might put a cover over the soil so that too much is not given the plant. Or tilt it so that any excess runs off.

For your fruit trees, have you looked at using another combo....dormant oil/lime sulfur/copper sulfur....the added chemical is becoming more and more used to combat bugs that don't react to the others.
Bordeaux Mixture--the brand name, is one such product.
You can read about it in Wikipedia.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 11:18AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Let's put it this way, vieja: if you experiment with the lime-sulfur and horticultural oil combo, you won't have to worry about the scale problem any more. Ever. ;-)

jeannie, your 'recipe' isn't what is 'usually suscribed to', I think it fair to say. Many people stay away from dish detergents entirely (except for washing dishes), for fear of causing plant damage. All of the chemicals used to make detergents do their job can be harsh on foliage.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 12:32PM
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The lime sulfur spray I have used on the fruit trees does make the neighborhood smell like 'rotten eggs' but I find if I use either that or just a dormant oil spray once in late winter/early spring I usually don't have much of a bug problem on the apples. I do try (if I remember!) to spray malathion at flower drop. No, I wouldn't want that smell in the house!

I never have seen the critter responsible for the scales ... are they microscopic? They don't (so far!) seem to favor any of the surrounding house plants thank goodness!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Hi ;- I am one who often uses dish detergent to treat all of my plants especially in the garden. When should I start to seeing any signs of damage? What type of damage should I expect to see?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 3:33PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There are many thousands of species of scale insects...over 350 in North America alone! Each are quite unique.

The little brown bumps on your schefflera ARE the scale insect, the adult to be exact. Some scale species lay their eggs underneath that protective, waxy covering. When they hatch, they emerge from under the adult and search to find a feeding location. They are called crawlers at this point and will undergo several (at least 2) molts before they become adults.

Most adult scale insects are immobile. Even those which have tiny legs under those 'shells' don't use them. Why should they? They have inserted a needle-like mouthpart into the plant so that they can suck out plant juices all day, every day. It's only those crawlers that move around. They can readily be seen with the naked eye, as long as you know what you are looking for. The alcohol misting should be helpful in controlling those fragile crawlers, while the oil applications can cause problems for all stages.

As a matter of fact, horticultural oil is probably the number one treatment for most kinds of scale insects, including those that can be found on landscape plants, trees (including fruit trees), etc.

As always, be sure to read the directions of the products you choose to use. There are some plants that you cannot spray with horticultural oils and damage could result.

Know, too, that there are a wide variety of horticultural oils available. You might want to try a cold-pressed Neem oil, for example. Not only will it provide the physical smothering we're looking for, but it works as an anti-feedant, AND and insect growth regulator. It affects those insects that feed on plants (and juices).

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 3:58PM
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