Even with the cool fronts weíve enjoyed this winter, itís not truly enough to knock down certain insect populations. However, because it is finally cold enough, you can use the well-known advice of applying Dormant Oil Spray to control many of these insects. This is especially beneficial in controlling Scale at this time of the year. Here's a link to an old article I wrote involving Scale Control during the winter from a few years ago.
The important message today is that if youíre going to spray Dormant Oil, please do it immediately, or at the least, very soon. If you wait for a warmer time-frame, and the potential plant you want to spray enjoys a growth spurt, Dormant Oil Spray can be highly damaging to said plant.
The good news is there are actually three other methods for scale control, that wonít damage the plant, just in case youíre enjoying a growth spurt. The first is a lighter version of Dormant Oil, commonly known as a Light Horticultural Oil. Some areas call it an All Seasonís Oil. The theory here is that you get the benefit of suffocating the scale and other over-wintering insects, without the threat of suffocating the respiration of the plant. The second method is our home-made insect killer specifically designed for scale, and that can be accessed at our main GardenLine webpage, and it can be used year-round.
The final way to control scale is the old-fashioned method of spraying it with Malathion. While this chemical does a bang-up job on scale, it still smells very bad and really doesnít do anything in helping you become more organic in your care practices. But it does work!
Interestingly enough, many people couldnít tell you whether they have scale or not, because when we call it an insect, and it doesnít crawl or have some kind of antennae or legs, they canít associate it with the word insect. But I know these people exist when they call in to the radio show time and time again, explaining a black sooty mold and peculiar white dots on their plants. And there are countless shrubs and plants that are covered with black sooty mold right now. I personally have seen Holly, Hawthorns and Elaeagnus covered with sooty mold and ultimately scale in the first two weeks of January. And scale isnít just white dots, as you can see by some of the images in this weekly email tip. They are brown, maroon, gray, and white; and they are round, oval, oblonged and thin. For fun, hereís a great website on scale control that shows the varying forms of scale that exist. Start at image # 110.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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