The scale insects comprise a large group of pest species.
For the lay person they can be classified into three groups:
- Hard (armoured) scale insects
- Soft scale insects
- Wax scale insects
Many scale insects have effective natural enemies, some of which are commercially available. Avoiding toxic pesticides and creating the right environment for beneficial insect to thrive are important to good scale management. Oil sprays can be an effective tool as a soft option for helping reduce scale insect populations.
Aphytis wasps are efficient parasitoids of red scale in citrus and passionvine. The adult wasp deposits her egg under the cover of the scale insect where it consumes the host during its development.
Lacewings are general predators that prey on many small insects. Lacewings feed readily on a wide range of scale insect pests.
Chilocorus ladybird beetles are specialist feeders on a range of hard (armoured) scale insects such as white louse scale, red scale and San José scale.
Although better known as mealybug predators, Cryptolaemus ladybird beetles can do an excellent job on many soft scale insects including soft brown scale, black scale (brown olive scale), pulvinaria scale and cottony cushion scale.