Insects killing in Ficus tree

Harlan Hendricks hhendric at
Sun Feb 23 00:05:34 EST 1997

dwr at wrote in article <5ecpgj$jof at>...
> >We have a ficus tree (I *think* it's a ficus tree - its leaves are about
> >wide by 3" long) in the house, it's about 6'6" high and we've had it for
> >a year.
> >Some branches are dying off and along those branches there's little
(1/16 - 
> >1/8 inch) hemispherical brown things stuck to the branches.  I can't see
> >insects on the tree but I assume that it's being killed by an
> >Does anyone know what it is and what I should do?
> >Tony Brower      	        	tonyb at
> >___________________________________________________________
> Sounds like you have scale.  I don't know how bad your infestation is,
> (and it's common on indoor grown ficus),  but I wipe mine off with a
> cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. In addition, I add a systemic
> insecticide to the soil as scale is a sucking insect.
> Gook Luck
> DAve  (Think small, grow a bonsai)

Yes, it does sound like there is a scale insect population on your fig. 
You probably have either brown soft scale (Coccus hesperidium) or
hemispherical scale (Saisettia coffeae) based on your description.  What
you noticed were the adult female.  Both species appear brown and convex at
this stage of development and may be found on the leaves and limbs.  The
sedentary immatures are often more numerous and undetected because of their
flat, semitransparent yellow bodies.

You can successfully implement any of the suggested control measures
already posted.  Unless your rather tall plant can easily be maneuvered
outdoors or away from furniture, I would save using insecticidal sprays as
a last approach.  Most of all, determine the magnitude of your infestation.
 If you have difficulty seeing the small beasts, then try some of the
indirect methods of determination.  The limbs and leaves of your plant
should be sticky to the touch if you have a heavy infestation.  The
tackiness is due to the copious amounts of honeydew secreted by these
phloem-feeders.  Heavy infestations are often accompanied by the growth of
black sooty-mold on the honeydew.
If your infestation is small, simply pick off the individuals that you see
or gently rub your fingers over the surface of the leaves/limbs.  Doing
this once a month for about 3 months will probably do the job (it did for
my 11 year old fig tree).  Include alcohol swabs to this method to help
insure its efficacy.

Harlan Hendricks
Dept. of Biology
Bethel College
McKenzie, TN

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