The pine needle scale is considered a severe pest of pines of various kinds in landscapes and nurseries.
Female pests lay as many as 40 eggs under each scale in the winter. In May, these pests hatch into crawlers that feed on pine needles. After settling down, they secrete the characteristic waxy covering over their bodies. Then, the scales usually reach maturity by early July. Lastly, males emerge and mate, which produces the second generation of eggs laid in July. This second generation matures in September, and the cycle continues.
The initial infestation causes yellowing of the trees’ foilage. In addition, as the infestation grows, the white, secreted coverings of the scale insects and black mold that grows combine to give infested trees a grayish appearance. Unfortunately, heavy infestations of pine needle scale typically result in premature pine needle shed and diminished growth rate. Consequently, prolonged heavy infestations kill young trees and severely weaken larger adult trees.
Pruning branches that are heavily infested with pine needle scale is usually the first course of action. Additionally, reducing tree stress and using nontoxic insecticidal soap is essential. However, applications should be carefully timed against the crawler stage, which immediately follows egg hatch. Furthermore, we always advise our clients to avoid planting any pine trees along dusty roads or in areas of heavy air pollution.
If you suspect pine needle scale, don’t delay and just call Eric right away!