Pest of the Month: Holly Scale

For the most part, hollies are extremely hardy, suffering from few pests or diseases. In fact, most problems that do occur are usually associated with other factors, such as environmental conditions. However, pests damaging holly bushes can happen so it’s important to become familiar with this common one for help in prevention as well as treatment.

Holly Scale insects can be found feeding on the back sides of the leaves of hollies. These sucking insects use a needle-like mouth-part to pierce leaves and drink the sugary sap inside. Scale insect droppings are sugary and drip onto the upper surfaces of leaves below. A black fungus called sooty mold grows on the droppings. It is the secretion from a pest known as scale that releases a sticky substance that dirt sticks to, causing the black fungus-like appearance. The scale pest can be treated with a contact or systemic insecticide as well as organic treatments.

To reduce insecticide use, our lawn pest team at The Master’s Lawn Care will use horticultural oils in the cooler months to control this common landscape pest. For proper control, it is critical to apply the oil spray over every surface of the plant. If the insects are on the underside of the leaves and the oil is only applied to the upper surface, it will have no effect on them. Because scale insects are difficult to kill, one or two follow-up applications should be made after the first one.

In the warmer months, the best method is systemic insecticides that are soaked into the plant and kill the scale as they Feast on its nutrients.

Check out our video for more information on Holly Scale:
Is Black Sooty Mold a Pest on my Holly Bush?

If you come across a Gainesville Lawn Pest, please don't hesitate to let us know if we can help. Contact our office at (352) 378-5296 and one of our technicians would be glad to assist you!