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Scale insects can be devastating to citrus trees. The pests are tiny insects which suck sap from the citrus tree and then excrete honeydew which accumulates on leaves, branches and fruit. Honeydew then turns to sooty mold and that interferes with photosynthesis in leaves, and can cause leaf drop and branch die back.
There are two types of scale, armored scales that are hard bodied consisting primarily of wax, the females of this family insert their long mouthparts as crawlers and never move again on their own, but can be moved by ants that are farming them. The soft bodied scale is not fastened permanently to the tree. The soft scale gives off large amounts of honeydew upon which sooty mold fungus forms, they can move on their own but often they are moved to other areas when ants relocate them.
It is important to have an ant barrier of a 3-4 inch band with tangle-foot around the trunk of the citrus to help protect ants from invading citrus. Since ants have a symbiotic relationship with scale insects (and other pests as well) a tape barrier is crucial. Ants domesticate many pests that damage plants and citrus trees, and ants will move those bugs from one food source to the next.
If you have an orchard, it is always a good idea to have a tape/tangle-foot barrier and to purchase Ladybugs and release those yearly. Ladybugs will attack all stages of scale.
If you notice beetles on your citrus trees, do not use pesticides. Beetles are keeping your trees healthy and will protect your investment.
Spraying soapy water onto the tree does little to remove scale insects. So it is always a good idea to completely wash citrus trees with Dawn dish-soap and warm water, with a wash-cloth. After washing treat tree with Horticultural Oil or Neem Oil.
Check tree again in a week and repeat process if required. It is always a good idea to wash the tree every time you fertilize.
If you need further assistance with a scale infestation, please message us here.