Cottony Cushion Scales are a type of soft scale insect. Their name and appearance is derived from the hundreds of white waxy egg sacks that mature females attach to their bodies.
Damage From Cottony Cushion Scale
Young crawlers (mobile immature stage) emerge from the cottony sacks and feed on the sap in the leaves and young twigs of trees and shrubs. This causes yellowing and stunting of the foliage, twig and branch dieback and potentially death of the plant. They can also weaken plants, making them more susceptible to borers (link)or environmental stress factors. Cottony Cushion Scales are often confused with Mealy Bug infestations.
Plants infested with Cottony Cushion Scales often become coated in honeydew, a sugary substance excreted by the insects, and the resulting Black Sooty Mold that grows in the honeydew. Cottony Cushion Scales are easiest to control during the crawler stage. If they are present, it also helps to control ants. In early fall, Cottony Cushion Scales move into bark crevices and branch crotches to overwinter.
Where Cottony Cushion Scales are Found Geographically
Cottony Cushion Scales can be found throughout the United States but are most troublesome in the Southeast and Southwest. Commonly infested plants include citrus, cocculus, euonymus, nandina and pittosporum as well as some houseplants.
Related or Similar Pests
Mealy Bugs. Magnolia Scale. Tea Scale. Woolley Adelgid. Woolley Apple Aphid.
- Outdoors, Cottony Cushion Scales are often effectively controlled by beneficial insects, such as the Vedalia Beetle (lady bugs).
- Using insecticides, other than horticultural oils, may hinder biological control.
- For the best control measures in your region, contact your local cooperative extension.