How To Treat Scale On Cactus

Cactus scales can entirely crust over the plant’s surface. Extreme infestations, if left untreated, might weaken and destroy the plant. What are cactus scales exactly, and how can you get rid of them?

Add a few drops of dish soap to a 1:1 mixture of water and rubbing alcohol. To remove the scale on cacti, fill a garden sprayer with the solution and fill in all the crusty areas before spraying the affected cacti. After 10 to 15 minutes, gently rub the dead scales off to remove them from the cactus.

Cactus scales are tiny, white, flattened scale insects with circular and dome-shaped shells. The scales can be removed by sprinkling the affected area with a solution of water and ethanol-based liquid, insecticidal soap, and a few drops of dishwashing soap.

What natural cure gets rid of plant scale?

There are several strategies to manage scale insects in the garden, but the best ones involve preventive or eliminating contaminated plant material before the insects can spread. Even though you might not need to take all of these actions, you could need to combine them in order to get rid of a scale bug infestation.


If you find the infection when it is still little, pruning diseased branches is frequently the simplest and safest solution. Make sure you have removed all infected stems by carefully inspecting the plant and any nearby plants. Infected plant debris should not be composted; instead, it should be bagged and properly burned or disposed of in the trash.

Treat With Rubbing Alcohol

If there is a light infestation of scale insects, rubbing alcohol can destroy them. The best strategy is to use a cotton swab to apply the rubbing alcohol directly on the scale bugs. However, doing this in an outside garden can be quite time-consuming. As a result, you can also prepare a solution of one part rubbing alcohol to seven parts water and put it in a garden sprayer or spray bottle.

What is horticultural oil?

Most horticultural oils are petroleum-based mineral oils, while some vegetable oils, such cottonseed and soybean oils, also have pest-repelling properties. In order to make oil easier to spray, it is typically emulsified.

Spraying horticultural oil on your plants in the late spring, right before the leaves emerge, is useful. Scale insects have the ability to hibernate as nymphs or eggs hidden in tree bark.

At this stage, spray your plants using a garden sprayer or hose-end sprayer that is loaded with 2 to 5 ounces of oil per gallon of water. The scale will be smothered by this application before the insects can develop their protective coating.

Scale can be found on stems, the undersides of leaves, and along the base of the plant, thus it’s crucial to treat the entire plant. The scale insects are suffocated by the oil, which coats them and obstructs their breathing pores.

Apply Insecticidal Soap

Scale can be killed using insecticidal soaps while they are still larval, but once the insects are attached and foraging inside their protective shells, they are less effective. Use a garden sprayer or spray bottle to apply until all of the leaves are dripping.

Follow the instructions on the container to be sure, but generally speaking, 1 ounce of soap to 1 gallon of water is a reasonable ratio.

These soaps don’t withstand the weather for very long, so multiple applications will be necessary to catch all the larvae, but these organic insecticides won’t leave a risky environmental impact.


Apply insecticidal soaps only to well-hydrated plants to avoid hurting them. Never use the product on plants that are exposed to direct sunlight or when it is hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Apply Neem Oil

Neem oil and other insecticides containing azadirachtin, a fundamental component of neem oil, provide great defence against scale and kill adult insects as well as merely larvae.

Neem oil and water don’t mix well, so you’ll need to add some dish soap to serve as an emulsifier. As a general rule, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil and 1 to 2 tablespoons of detergent to each gallon of water. Use a garden sprayer to apply.

Since honey bees and the majority of other helpful insects are not poisonous, neem oil and other treatments containing azadirachtin are recognised as organic insecticides. It is possible for other plant-based insecticides to be effective.

Use Beneficial Insects

Scale insects can be effectively controlled by beneficial insects including lady beetles, soldier beetles, and parasitic wasps. By giving these natural predators food and shelter, you can encourage them. Additionally, you can order helpful insects via mail to release in your garden.

In the fight against scale, synthetic chemical pesticides ought to be the absolute last option. Neoicotinoids (acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam), which are present in systemic insecticides and can be used with some success, are increasingly recognised as a severe threat to honey bees and other pollinators. A chemical pesticide should only be used when all other options have failed.

Controlling Scale on Indoor Plants

Scale insects will proliferate even more quickly indoors than they do outdoors because there are no natural predators there. When scale infests indoor plants, you will need to be incredibly meticulous about controlling or removing it.

Pruning out the infected stems could solve the issue if you find it early enough. For a few weeks, keep a close eye on the plant to make sure no new scales develop. Throw away the pruned stems right away.

Gently brush existing scale off of indoor plants using a cotton swab or facial-quality sponge coated in rubbing alcohol. The scale should be killed by the alcohol on its own, but the dead insects will stay on your plants and make it challenging for you to look for fresh infestations. The small facial sponges in the cosmetics section are small and soft enough to use without damaging the plant stems, but they are abrasive. Make sure to choose plain sponges free of lotion or cleansers. A limited area should always be tested first because certain plants are more sensitive than others.

How does cacti scale appear?

Scale insects that consume the sap from cactus plants are known as scale bugs. They appear as pimples on the limbs of your plant and might be brown, red, or black.

Small lumps under the leaves and stems of the leaves that pulse suggest that the cactus may have scale.

Since scale bugs grow quickly in the summer due to the heat and humidity, this pest is more prevalent then.

Types Of Scale Insects

Even though there are thousands of scale insects, only a few of them have an impact on cactus. On the plant’s stems and leaves, the scale will appear as flat or oval pimples.

The waxy shell that this scale insect secretes around itself to shield its body and eggs from predators, parasites, and fungus can be used to identify it.

Because they are largely stationary, the armoured scale insects are simple prey for scale predators.

This scale resembles the armoured scale but is lighter in colour and does not have an outer shell.

Instead of being attacked by predators or parasites, ants cannot feed on it because of the chemicals it emits.

Another common scale seen on cacti is the cochineal scale insect, which is not nearly as destructive to the cactus as armoured scale insects are.

For its brilliant red dye, which gives meals and other products an appealing hue, this scale was originally harvested.

However, due to the potentially dangerous chemicals used to make its dye as well as other negative affects it could have on your health, cochineal scale is no longer gathered for commercial purposes.

How can white scales on cactus be removed?

The browning of the trunk itself is not a concern; rather, it is something that all cacti inevitably experience as they age. They start to have a corky, barky basis. However, from what I can tell in the shot, there are tiny round objects on the left side of the plant. This resembles a sucking insect called a scale. It might have increased the plant’s barkiness. They are difficult to get rid of, but you can try a hand-held spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of water and rubbing alcohol, as well as a few drops of dishwashing soap. Use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub the region after thoroughly spraying the afflicted area. The scale ought to disappear after doing this. If they appear, you might need to repeat every now and then. After treating, use ordinary water to thoroughly rinse the affected area.

What is the ideal method of treating scale on plants?

Despite your best efforts, nature will occasionally take its course and you will need to regard your plant as a scale. The backside of these small insects’ shells reveals that they have securely attached themselves to your plant and are actively draining its sap away, despite the fact that they can resemble benign brown growths on your plants.

Scale can be any colour, shape, or size, but it most frequently takes the form of small, brown, spherical lumps on the leaves and stems of your plant. There are two basic categories of scales: unarmored or soft scales and armoured or hard scales. The names allude to the insect bodies’ protective shell-like covers. The protective scale that the insect is covered with makes control difficult, as it is with mealybugs. Scales can be round, oval, or oyster shell shaped, and they can be up to 1/8 inch long. They are primarily brown in colour, but they can also be white or black.

Under their shells, females can lay hundreds of eggs, which hatch into 1/100-inch-long, translucent worms. The initial few seconds of a scale’s life are spent moving around until they cling onto a plant’s leaf permanently. These defenceless crawlers, however, go on to fresh feeding grounds where they affix to the plant and create their own protective shells. Since it’s uncommon for a plant to have only one scale, there probably are more lurking beneath the surface. Treat your plant as soon as you see any symptoms to save it from becoming overwhelmed.

The safest way to start treating scale, whether it has a soft or hard shell, is to start by removing the pests with your fingernail, a soft toothbrush, or even a Q-tip bathed in rubbing alcohol. Soft shell scale bugs can be receptive to insecticide. Most can be easily taken off the plant with a little bit of push, while tougher adults can sometimes be more resistant. To get rid of any stray bugs you may have plucked off but dropped into another area of the plant, rinse the plant under the sink or shower faucet. While doing so, take care not to moisten the soil excessively.

In order to treat any remaining larvae, the next step is to apply an insecticide. It’s crucial to treat the entire plant with your selected insecticide even if you manually removed every bug because the larvae are so minute they may still be present. Neem oil is recommended as an all-natural, organic therapy and preventative measure, but insecticidal soap may be more effective for severe infestations. Simply use either mixture to evenly mist the entire plant from top to bottom, then use paper towels to clean the foliage. Please take note that sunlight mixed with the insecticide might burn a plant, thus insecticide should only be used at night or when the plant is out of direct sunlight.

a severe infestation of scales. Notice the buildup of scale close to the stem, which is the leaf’s juicier and more nutrient-rich area.

While it heals, keep the afflicted plant separate from the rest of your collection, taking extra care to make sure that none of its leaves touch those of any other plants. Continue using this method every 7 to 10 days until the scale bugs stop appearing. Make sure to periodically and completely inspect all plants for future prevention. A nice addition to regular plant maintenance is dusting leaves and checking for pests.

What They Look Like

Scale are tiny, reddish-brown, flat insects that feed on plant liquids and leave a sticky film on leaves as a result. Scale insects mature into a hard, rounded shell that can make them challenging to eradicate.

Green Thumb Tip

Regularly inspect your indoor plants, and cure any infestation as soon as you see it.

Invading other plants and rapidly reproducing, bugs can spread fungal or other diseases from one plant to another.

The majority of scales are found connected to stems and the undersides of leaves, typically along the major veins. You could observe that the damaged portions become feeble and yellow. Ficus and ferns are greatly bothered by scale.

These insects exude honeydew after sucking on plant fluids. This sticky substance is present on the plant’s leaves as well as on the ground or a nearby table.

How to Get Rid of Scale Insects

Spraying some soapy water on the young scale insects usually works to suppress them. Use gentle dishwashing soap without fragrances or other chemicals. To 1 gallon of room temperature water, add 2 teaspoonfuls. Spray the soapy water onto the leaves and stems using a spray bottle to completely cover them. For at least a month or until you can locate no more insects, spray once every week. Always completely rinse the soapy mixture off with warm water.

It can be more challenging to get rid of adult scale. If spraying doesn’t remove them, scrub them off with an old toothbrush dipped in soapy water. Areas that are heavily infected should be trimmed.

Numerous household pests, including scale, are killed by rubbing alcohol. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe them down. Apply again every two to three days. Use this with caution even though it works effectively. Plant tissue is harmed when alcohol is applied to the entire leaf.

The label for the product lists your plant. Follow the manufacturer’s usage instructions after carefully reading the label.

Can vinegar be used to remove scale off plants?

If you have a severe infestation of these pests in your house or garden, chemical treatments like systemic insecticides for scale insects are strongly advised. In this instance, the substance has an internal effect on the plant and swiftly drives the insects away. The following forms exist for them:

  • granulated,
  • liquid,
  • sticks.

Chemical pesticides have a thorough working mechanism that kills both adult insects and their eggs. Additionally, they eliminate all varieties of scale insects. These goods are available at any gardening supply store. They frequently show up in internet shops as well.

When the temperature is high and the humidity is low, scales on plants begin to form. If the plant is undernourished, the likelihood of their manifestation rises. Interestingly, they can unintentionally be transported to the home or garden with fresh plants that were bought from a shady garden centre or supermarket.

Scale bugs are tiny insects, usually measuring 4-5 mm. Depending on the type, they can be white, transparent, or brown in hue. They are frequently confused for aphids.

Especially in the early stages of an infestation, home cures for scale bugs are very successful. Use natural sprays made from nettle, onions, or garlic. Additionally, the plant can be cleaned using water diluted with soap, vinegar, or denatured alcohol. Use a systemic insecticide for scale insects if these other approaches are unsuccessful since they attack the bugs from the inside.