Whilst out and about in clients garden's I see what beasties are prevalent at different times of the year.
Although still in February, yes we do get a winter in the Mediterranean, the plants in our gardens are starting to bud and are preparing themselves for the spring sunshine which is just round the corner. As a consequence the green fly white fly and black fly are preparing themselves for some early spring pickings too!!
The first culprit to come under the hammer is the Californian Red Scale or “aonidiella aurantii” to those people who speak Latin or wear white laboratory coats. Strange but true , it is called California Red Scale but originally comes from Australia and is found in nearly all hot countries. I have noticed some heavy infestations of scale on rose bushes lately and of course on citric trees. Other plants that are particularly prone to attack are olives and boxwood.
The difficulty with treating scale insects or mealy bugs is that they have a protective coating in the form of a shell or a wax covering which means that many insecticides do not “ reach” behind their defensive armour, and the majority of insecticides that were effective in their control have been removed from the marketplace.
What do scale / mealy actually do? They suck the fluids from leaves and stems, robbing plants of essential nutrients. Mealy bugs/scale feed on all parts of the plant, but especially on tender new growth. Leaves wither and yellow and, on crop plants, fruit may drop prematurely. In many untended orange groves Red Scale is responsible for the dead “bits” of the trees.
How to treat.
The mealy bug problem is probably slightly easier to deal with as if there are not many these can be taken off by hand.
On fruit trees a winter oil mix can be applied to treat scale.
The best course of action is applying neem oil at the end of Feb and then again at the end of May.
Scale on roses
Californian Red Scale on an orange stem.
Red Scale on an olive
A sight often seen - red scale on oranges