Armored Scales Infested Meyer Lemon!! Help ME!!

GloxiniaLoverJanuary 17, 2012

So heres my story:

I got my young meyer lemon tree(less than a foot and a half) and no side branches, at the Home and Garden Show, in Seattle. Im pretty sure it came with the armored scales because i kept it inside until about mid-may and it developed problems before that. I wish i wouldve caught it early because its leaves yellowed and dropped and usually the plant had only about 3 leaves at a time. Also, there were spots underneath the leaves which i always had a little concern about but wasnt sure if it was just how the plant is supposed to be. Then over the summer im sure the scales were controlled by predators because my lemon started growing tons of leaves and actually had a large lemon on it. Then when i brought it inside it started dropping leaves and its lemon!! :( Now its just a long green stem. :( I scraped off the scales(ewie!) and washed it with a little soap, which i dont knoww if thats the right thing but i was desperate! Now im pretty sure the scales are gone but im going to buy horticultural oil to spray on. Sorry for the long message but i wanted to give a little history! But here are my main questions:

-16 oz would be enough for a small lemon tree right?

-You delute it with water to spray on right? What is the water to oil ratio?

-Anything else i should know about treating?

Also, i need your opinion here! Do you think it will live? One story i saw in a magezine a reader had sent in of their peach tree that turned into a brown twig and they actually pulled it up and used it as a support for another plant, which gives me hope! It has lost all its leaves but its stem still looks healthy and dark green, and since it fully recovered during the summer after losing all but 2 leaves last year, im hopeful.

Again i apologize for the long post but i think if someone read this it may help them or maybe you'd just enjoy the story. I dont know


Here is a link that might be useful: My Infested Lemon

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I think those are 'soft scales' - a bit easier to control than armoured scales.
But I doubt that these pests are the main cause of your lemon's leaf drop. Much more likely to be a problem with watering, temperature, light or humidity. It's a common difficulty with moving citrus indoors for the winter.
As long as your 'stick' stays green, it should recover and produce leaves when conditions improve in the spring.
Horticultural oil is usually diluted about 100:1, but exact instructions will always be on the container.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Thanks for your reply! I wonder if it didnt have enough water because when i put it outside for the summer i forgot about it around early september and it was outside until october! oops :(

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:42PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

it started dropping leaves because you brought it inside. Changes in temperature, humidity and light cause stress. Another thing to consider is winter leaf drop. Is it by a sunny window?


    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 5:14PM
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"Is it by a sunny window?"

You have got to be kidding. I sunny window in Seattle in the winter? Ha ha ha. There are few enough sunny windows in Seattle in the summer!

I speak from experience here. I lived in Seattle for 14 years before leaving for the sunnier climate of Texas.

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 12:25PM
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While your tree is bare, it should be a SINCH to get rid of that scale.

You can try for starters with cotton balls soaked in alchohol and wipe down all parts of that trunk and twigs. Wipe that tree clean then rinse off.

If you start to see a come back do it again before the leaves grow back.

Get yourself some Fish Emuslion and spray your tree down frequently with it at a half water and half fish ratio every week. You will rid these suckers once and for all.
You also need to treat your trees BEFORE they come in starting at about Memorial Day until the fall to bring them in pest free. You learn as you go.

Mrtexas, we know what our buddy 'Mike' meant and you have it made down there. I am almost behind you on getting out of a sunless area to one like yours:-)


I would also try not to over water. Trees with no leaves and the lack of sunlight you have are not going to drink much. You want that tree as healthy as can be to fight off any pest attack.

You can fertilize lightly to give it a boost if you are at the very least providing some type of more than a few house of light.

Trust me

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 1:33PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Mr Texas.

First off I have read a ton of your post both here and at the citrus growers forum and have learned a lot so thank you for that.

second, no I wasnt kidding, it was a simple question. I apologize if I offended you with what you may consider a stupid question. I dont have clue how much sun Seattle gets. Ill be sure and research someones climate before I ask them a question next time


    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 2:02PM
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No offense taken. I got a good laugh out of the idea of sun in Seattle in the winter!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 6:12PM
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Gloxinia Lover, You have done what I would do; 1 to 10 trees, physical removal by hand is the best method; follow it with a good wash with a hose. If you do that every year, the scale will soon disappear; they hide in the soil in Winter. If you have more than 10 trees, I would consider hort. oil with copper; but it has to be applied when the scale are "on the move". In the field we don't treat for scale; we let the birds and beneficials control them. Here is a good link about citrus scale.

Here is a link that might be useful: Citrus Scale

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 7:32PM
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Is citrus greening a problem in your area? You mentioned that your tree was outside for a while... If the leaves grow back in small and light green, then that may be what the tree has on top of other pests. Unlikely, but we thought the same thing when our trees died of greening :(

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 7:56PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Scale insects don't hide in the soil. In most instances, scale die after one season, leaving their empty exoskeletons OR the exoskeletons filled with eggs. Adults scale that DO overwinter, do so in their permanent position on the plant. Crawlers don't emerge until the eggs hatch in the spring. They quickly leave the protective 'shell' in order to find a suitable, juicy spot on the plant.

Horticultural oils are the most commonly used method of scale control, something that has been true for generations. There are many products on the market and one simply needs to follow the directions on the label for proper mixing and application. The label has a wealth of information.

Oil applications work by smothering the scale, whether it is in the adult, crawler, or egg stage.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 11:23PM
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wow thanks for all the replies!
does that link require any downloading? my computer has problems with internet explorer and force closes whenever i want to download a pdf!
meyermike 1micha-
I think ill try that cotton ball trick first, since i dont have any other use besides scale for horticultural oil
To everybody else-
even though seattle has low light, it doesnt matter anyway since my windowsils are too thin to put any plants on! :( But i do have 1 growlight and as soon as i get my pansies outside ill get my lemon under there if it recovers. Also, is there any chance it can spread to other common houseplants?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 3:05AM
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Hello everyone.
When it comes to identifying insects, I always defer to Rhizo to make ceratin that the pest your dealing with is accurate.

I like to be on the precaution side, never using a pestsicide unless I am absolutely certain of what the pest is and that it can be handled with a simple swipe of the fingers and or with water.. for me, showering mine clean or wiping them off often does the trick without oils.

Most oils do the job too and can be safe, but then some burn plants too.

The very first thing I always do when I see any difference on the leaves of mine, especially distortion, is count out pests. I make absolutely certain and then identify if need be before I fool around with my fertilizers.

The next thing I always do is make sure my 'mix' is working correctly and that it is one that will not allow even the possibility of over fertilization to harm anything. If it drains freely every time you water, that is an advanatge for you that Josh had tried to point out.

Then I go from there. Usually I one can easily determine if they are over fertilizing with no hesitation, if they are not following label instructions, using less than the prescribed dosage, watering first in an open mix then coming behind and fertilizing, or using a heavy mix that takes too long to dry out, which in this instance is guarenteed to hold salts if not flushed out often This can be something easy to figure out for each of us in our own circumstances.

Accumilated salts in your mixes can make your leaves look burnt and so can spraying your leaves with fertilized water.

It's so nice to see so many here Patty, Rhizo, John, Josh, Jean, and Toni guiding you along. You'll get it.

Nice to see you 'Rhizo' and Patty and others!
Mom sends a big hug to you Rhizo!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Rhizo, I defer to your greater knowledge; and I agree that scale, once they are on the tree do not return to the soil. They do however, COME from the soil; and commercially soil treatments are recommended to reduce populations. For my field trees I allow the natural predators to control them unless I get a major outbreak, in which case I use horticultural oil. For my garden trees I rely on removal by hand or by washing; and the population is less every year.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

John, to my knowledge (which I hope you will increase), the typical scale insects do not come from the soil, live in the soil, over winter in the soil. I've spent a bit of time on the web to see if I can track down some information that supports your statement, but haven't found anything. Please lead me to some information!

Now, there is a type of scale known to be a pest of turf (especially highly manicured turf) which are called ground pearls. These critters are not a problem for anything but turfgrasses, where they can be found in the soil and on the roots.

There are soil treatments which are systemic. The chemical is absorbed through the roots, goes up the vascular system, and becomes a toxin for sucking insects such as scale, aphids, mealybugs, etc. and probably nectar and pollen feeding insects, too.

Scale insects spread from place to place while they are in the crawler stage. Birds and other animals transfer the little pests, as does rain and wind. Oh, and we do our fair share of spreading them around, too.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Rhizo.. can't find where I read it right now; but it was probably some Aussie research. Scale is a bigger problem in Australia and they have done a lot of research on it. I do remember that some scales actually live on the roots of trees under the soil, and on roots of host plants other than citrus. For that I always treat with a soil insecticide to control soil arthropods before planting my trees. If you follow the citrus scale link above (West Australia) you will see on page 4 the recommendation for soil treatment to reduce populations. And that is about all I know about that. Again, I defer to your greater knowledge on this particular subject.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 12:28PM
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hm, nice to know. what would best help my lemon recover? Time? Also i ordered a kiwi vine online, not realizing how quickly they grow to be monster sized! Im not sure when ill be able to plant it in the ground, since im not sure if ill be living in a rental, but hoping a to find a house with a few acres. so can i keep the kiwi in about a 5 gallon pot for atleast a year or two? If i want is it possoble to keep the kiwi at a certain size in a pot?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 12:11AM
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If you follow the recommendations that have been provided, I think your lemon will recover okay; they are amazingly resistant.
As for your kiwi, prune it back as much as you want during the dormancy period; that and the container size will limit its growth until you have a piece of land to plant it. Give it a minimal amount of fertilizer also; why encourage growth you don't want. For me, I don't know why you would want to grow a kiwi (actually, you need at least 2, a male and a female plant); they are not particularly pretty; they produce a bad smell; they need a fairly large space (especially for two plants); and you can buy them year round in the grocery store for a relatively small price.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 2:24PM
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Oh I've got those (well, I should say "had") on my Cottoneaster bonsai. Do not worry too much about the scale killing your tree, they are a pest, and suck sap but they rarely seem to be able to kill a plant.

What I used was All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil, which is organic apparently, and gave my tree a good soaking, allowed it to sit for a few days and then ran over the surface with a toothpick. Since the tree is small it was a more managable task.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:09AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

John, the pesticide mentioned in that very good informational site is Confidor, the brand name one of the many insecticides with Imidicloprid as the active ingredient. It is used as a soil drench because it is systemic. It's much more efficient to have a plant absorb this particular chemical into its system to control pests than to spray over the top.

Imidicloprid can be found in a host of pesticides for the systemic control of aphids, mealybugs, whitefly, and scale. Its use, by the way, is well known to increase the population of spider mites and thrips.

And before anyone asks...Imidicloprid is one of the very few systemics listed for use on edible crops, including citrus. It's not something that should be used unless you understand the timing of such applications so that the fruit or vegetable can be eaten safely. Again, systemics enter the system of plants, making the sap and other juices toxic to those that might ingest it.

Wizzard, an untended scale infestation can kill plants. How quickly that can happen depends upon the species of scale, the species of plant, and the overall vigor of the plant. You chose the best option for your cotoneaster, a horticultural oil. A light spray can really help in getting these pests under control. Scale insects won't be completely killed with one application, but an occasional misting will do the trick. Horticultural oils are something that every plant grower should have on hand, including those who try to grow organically.

With oils, it's important to avoid spraying in very warm or very cold temperatures.

Gloxinia, horticultural oil is your best bet. Read and follow the directions. Also, I am curious about your kiwi. When kiwi are purchased from a bonafide nursery, it will be clearly labeled as a male OR a female plant. What was the name of the kiwi you purchased?

They can be grown in a container for the first year (5 gallon) but won't take kindly to that for much longer than that, I don't think. Don't really know from first hand experience.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Johnmerr i definetly see your point of view but luckily did a little research about the plants and found out they can produce about 100-200 pounds of kiwi a year. Much cheaper than the grocery store. and the variety i got has bright red flesh! although you may already know that! to wizzard, its nice to know you were able to easily kill the scales! Good thing you mentioned the All Seasons Oil, because when i was looking at oil that was the main and cheaper brand i saw. Rhizo, the type i got is from Park Seed in a male and female pair, called hardy red:
Also, are there any uses for horticultural oil besides pest control? Although after reading the list of insects it kills i definetly am going to buy it now!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 7:17PM
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From what I understand, the only real use is for pest control and some people may also use it for dormant plant. It doesn't so much help the plant as much as armor. It does make your plant look clean and shiny too!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:11PM
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oh cool. well ill give an update in a week or two so you guys can see how its coming along!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Thank you Rhizo for that very valuable information!

In fact I have been able to completely control scale with the methods you suggest in the past and know what to do if I ever get it again.

May I suggest to you GloxiniaLover that once you know you have gotten control of your outbreak, don't be afraid to have a bottle of Fish Emulsion on hand and spray down your trees on a regular basis very early in the am or before sundown to prevent scale infestation.

Good lock and let us know how you do.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:08PM
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If you all are still watching my thread i want to say that i think that the scale is gone! Im still waiting for any sign of growth, im so hopeful!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 6:38PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Very glad to hear it, Glox.

You asked if horticultural oils had an other uses other than to control certain pests. Yes, oils have been used for years to prevent powdery mildew for a wide variety of plants, too. It prevents the fungal agent from infecting the plant cells. The usual oils won't cure an infestation once it has breached the epidermis...but Neem oil has proven to have curative qualities for powdery mildew and black spot.

Please become a good label reader when using a chemical of ANY kind on your plants. Even products such as oils can cause problems if you don't follow the directions. For example, you must heed the temperature warnings that you will find on the label. You shouldn't apply oils to tender flowers. Some brands of hort. oils are combined with other pesticides, such as pyrethrins. And some plants should never be sprayed with an oil. You'll find that information and more on the label.

To get the most benefit from your oil applications, be sure to get the stuff where it will do the most good. Remember, it works only if the pest is smothered. That means you need to know where the pests lays its eggs, where the nymphs and adults hang out. By understanding a little bit about the life cycle of the pest, you can direct your spray to the correct location. Follow the mixing directions on your product and remember that though you should give your plants a thorough spray, you don't need to soak it. Be sure to get it on the underside of the leaves.

It is highly probable that you have not completely eliminated all of the scale. Remember, the eggs and the nymphs, called crawlers, are very small. Most of us know that it is wise to apply horticultural oils a couple of times a year, whether we see scale insects or not.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 9:51AM
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