What Causes Scale On Succulents

One of the rare pests that occasionally affect succulents is scale insects. The plant may suffer harm and become more prone to illness when these small insects appear. Succulents are normally tough plants, but the sap in their thick leaves attracts the scale that live on them.

How should scale on succulents be handled?

The simplest technique to handle hard-bodied scale insects on your succulent is to simply remove the branch or leaves that are damaged. Sad but secure Scale insects can be dabbed with rubbing alcohol using a cotton swab or paintbrush, just as mealy bugs.

How do you get rid of scale on plants for good?

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 defense 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 recognized 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 recognized 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.

What creates plant scales?

Although these tiny insects can come from a variety of sources, scale on your indoor plants can seem to appear overnight. Maybe you reused a soiled plant pot, used contaminated potting soil, or left your plants outside during the warm months. You must get rid of the infestation as soon as you discover scale to prevent it from getting worse.

Scale insects can be difficult to control since they often withstand most pesticides. Avoid wasting your time on dangerous chemicals that cannot pierce their thick exterior. Even though it can take some time, it’s worthwhile to remove stubborn scale in order to restore the health of your plant. Learn how to remove scale from indoor plants by reading on.

What does a succulent’s scale resemble?

Succulents’ scale is simple to spot. Small lumps resembling scale infestations are common. The distribution of the bumps can vary depending on the size of the infestation.

Is it okay to spritz alcohol on my succulents?

Aphids and mealybugs are the most frequent pests of succulent plants. Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, or cleaning the infected regions with water can all be used to control them. The bugs are promptly killed by a fine, light spray of rubbing alcohol that doesn’t harm succulent foliage.

Does potting soil include scale?

  • If you experience recurrent infestations, consider carefully removing the top inch of soil from the pot and replacing it with new potting soil because scale can hide in the soil of a houseplant.
  • Crawlers have the ability to leave the plant and later return to reinfest it. Remove the plant from the area and clean any cracks where plant pests might be hiding to avoid this. Inspect the plant tray and pot’s outside lip, interior corners, and bottom for any scale insects that might be hiding there.
  • Trim any plant leaves that are seriously infested, and discard them (outside of your home). * Avoid over-trimming to avoid killing your plant.
  • Be cautious to sanitize the pot before reusing it if you wish to repot a plant after treating it for scale. Houseplant scale insects can readily infest any plant that is potted in that container by hiding on the rim or the edges. Use hot, soapy water to thoroughly clean the pot.

Is it difficult to remove scale?

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 color, 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 armored 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 color, 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 defenseless 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.

Is it difficult to remove scale off plants?

Since most insecticides are rendered ineffective by scale’s protective layer, treating it can be challenging. The best way to control infestations is through natural or mechanical controls. Try the following techniques if scale insects are present:


Keep an eye out for scale on your plants since once the soft or hard shell has formed, no insecticide will work. When the insects are most vulnerable, in the spring, watch for the initial crawler stage; cleanse the area before applying a spray.

Use water:

Use a mild hose blast to loosen eggs, nymphs, or adults from small infestations. To kill them, dispose of in a bucket of soapy water. Those stems or leaves that have sooty mold should be cleaned.

Use natural predators:

Scale-eating insects provide organic pest control. These include ladybugs, soldier beetles, parasitic wasps, and lacewings. Create habitat to draw and maintain these insects. You can order beneficial insects online or at your local garden center.

Apply horticultural oil:

Neem oil, an organic horticultural oil, works on eggs, nymphs, and adults because it coats and suffocates the insects. Don’t forget to adequately cover the entire plant. Applying oil in the spring before leaves appear will help control insects and overwintering eggs. Multiple applications can be required. Carefully follow the directions since some plants could be sensitive and because applying oils requires a specific range of temperature.

Use insecticidal soap:

Use a store-bought insecticidal soap or make your own. The crawler stage, before the scale develops its protective layer, is when this therapy is most effective. Multiple applications can be required.

How can scale on plants be removed naturally?

These sap-sucking bugs cling to host plants’ twigs, leaves, branches, and fruits. Learn about the least-toxic ways to control the scale here.

Over 1,000 species of scale insects are found in North America, and they are frequently seen on houseplants, ornamental shrubs, backyard trees, and greenhouse plants. They are so strangely formed, stationary pests that they frequently resemble bumps, not insects. In many instances, severe infestations develop undetected before plants start to experience damage. It’s possible for large populations to cause poor growth, diminished vigor, and chlorotic (yellowed) leaves. A host that has been infected could die if the infestation is not stopped.


There are two categories of scale insects:

Armored (Hard)

secrete a tough, non-body-attached coating (1/8 inch long) to protect themselves. Under this spherical armor, the hard scale feeds and lives, but it does not move around the plant. No honeydew is secreted by them.

A waxy film, up to 1/2 inch long, that is a component of the body is called SoftSecrete. They frequently have the ability to travel small distances (though they do so infrequently) and make a ton of honeydew. Soft scales can be flat or nearly spherical in form.

Life Cycle

Under their protective covering, adult females lay eggs that take one to three weeks to hatch. The newly hatched nymphs (known as crawlers) emerge from this covering and travel around the plant until they find an appropriate eating place. Young nymphs pierce the plant with their mouthparts and start to feed. As they get older and become immovable adults, they eventually construct their own armor. They do not pupate and, especially in greenhouses, may have numerous overlapping generations per year.

It should be noted that many species’ males grow wings as adults and resemble little gnat-like insects. They don’t eat vegetation and are rarely spotted. Females frequently procreate without sex.


  • Pruning and discarding infected branches, twigs, and leaves will help get rid of scale insects.
  • When scale counts are low, they can be manually rubbed or plucked from plants.
  • When infestations are mild, dabbing individual pests with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or a leaf shine containing neem will also work.
  • Ladybugs and lacewings, two helpful insects that are sold commercially, are predators of the immature larval or “crawler stage.”
  • The larvae can also be eliminated with natural insecticides such as d-Limonene and insecticidal soap. The environment does not retain these compounds very well, thus many treatments throughout egg hatching will be necessary for efficient control.
  • The main insecticidal component of neem oil, azadirachtin, may be found in Azamax. With its numerous modes of action and organic approval, this concentrated spray essentially eliminates the possibility of pest resistance growing. The best part is that it doesn’t harm honey bees or many other useful insects.
  • All pest life phases, including adults that are shielded from most other pesticides by their armor coats, are controlled with horticultural oils and other safe, oil-based insecticides.
  • As a last option, quick-acting natural pesticides should be utilized. These natural insecticides, which are derived from plants with insecticidal qualities, have less negative side effects than synthetic chemicals and degrade more quickly in the environment.

Advice: Ants will defend these pests from their natural predators and eat on the honeydew that sucking insects produce. To naturally get rid of ants, apply Tanglefoot Pest Barrier to the trunks of trees or the stalks of woody plants.