How to Manage Pests
UC Pest Management Guidelines
Scientific Name: Coccus pseudomagnoliarum
(Reviewed 9/08, updated 5/14)
In this Guideline:
Description of the Pest
Citricola scale is a soft scale. Crawlers of the citricola scale appear from June through August. They settle primarily on the underside of leaves, but in severe infestations they also settle on the upper leaf surface and on twigs, rarely on fruit. Young scales are flat and almost translucent; they grow slowly over the course of the summer and fall, molting only once during that period. By November, immature scales turn a mottled dark brown color and begin migrating to twigs; this migration peaks in February and March. Once on twigs, they develop faster than they did on leaves and they turn a gray color. By late April, citricola scales molt and mature into the adult female stage. Females lay 1,000 to 1,500 eggs during the time from early May to early August. Eggs hatch after 2 to 3 days and crawlers move to leaves. There is only one generation a year, and there are no males.
Brown soft scale, another soft scale that is similar to citricola scale, may be found in the same areas as citricola scale but it has multiple generations and its colonies are composed of mixed instars and adults.
Citricola scale can be a serious pest of citrus in the San Joaquin Valley. A severe infestation may reduce tree vigor, kill twigs, and reduce flowering and fruit set. As they feed, citricola scale excrete honeydew, which accumulates on leaves and fruit. Sooty mold grows on honeydew and interferes with photosynthesis in leaves and causes fruit to be downgraded in quality during packing.
Citricola scale is completely controlled by Metaphycus and Coccophagus parasites in southern California and is almost never seen. Even though these parasites are established in the San Joaquin Valley, biological control is not effective there, and treatments may be necessary in groves where broad-spectrum pesticides are not regularly used to control other pests. In groves practicing biologically based pest management (e.g., releasing Aphytis melinus for California red scale control), growers may consider withholding broad-spectrum citricola sprays until Aphytis activity is over in the fall (e.g., late October or November).
Introduced and indigenous parasitic wasps, Metaphycus luteolus, M. stanleyi, M. nietneri, M. helvolus, and Coccophagus spp., control citricola scale in southern California. Several of these parasites occur in the San Joaquin Valley but are unable to control citricola scale except in groves near urban areas or in those with high populations of brown soft scale, which serves as an alternate host for the parasites when citricola scales are not in the stage that the parasite attacks.
Organically Acceptable Methods
Biological control and organically approved petroleum oil sprays, such as 440 oil PureSpray Green, are acceptable for use in organically managed orchards.
Oil is the most selective pesticide available for control of citricola scale. However, oil simply reduces the scales' overall numbers and in many cases must be applied 1-2 times every year. The organophosphates chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) and methidathion (Supracide) and the carbamate carbaryl (Sevin) are broad-spectrum and toxic to most natural enemies. Chlorpyrifos can be selective if used at a low rate (2 pt/acre) and can more effectively reduce citricola scale than oil. A full rate of Lorsban (6–12 pt/acre) is not selective, but it can suppress densities so effectively that another spray is not needed for 2 to 3 years. The neonicotinoids imidacloprid (Admire, Nuprid) and acetamiprid (Assail) are fairly broad-spectrum(i.e., toxic to most natural enemies) and will suppress citricola scale for one year. The insect growth regulator buprofezin (Applaud) is fairly selective, but toxic to vedalia beetles, and will suppress citricola scale for one year. The neonicotinoids should not be used in cottony cushion scale-infested orchards because they have no effect on cottony cushion scale, but they are highly toxic to the predatory vedalia beetle and can disrupt biological control of cottony cushion scale populations.
In the San Joaquin Valley, a number of populations of citricola scale have been found to be resistant to the organophosphate chlorpyrifos (Lorsban). Thus, low rates of this insecticide would be ineffective and high rates only suppress citricola scale for a single year. Growers experiencing chlorpyrifos-resistant scale should use the other chemicals.
Monitoring and Treatment Decisions
Citricola scale is very sensitive to organophosphates and carbamates (if not resistant) and generally does not become a problem until growers stop using these insecticides for control of other pests. Check for citricola scale at all times of the year when monitoring for other scales, but look especially closely at the twigs in April and at the underside of leaves in mid- to late August.
Be sure to distinguish the citricola scale from brown soft scale. Brown soft scale has multiple generations and all stages will be present on leaves and twigs year round, whereas citricola scale has only one generation and is found on leaves only in the summer and fall, and the nymphs will be uniform in size.
Examine one 24-inch twig on the northeast side of 10 trees in each of four rows (for a total of 40 twigs) distributed throughout the orchard. On each twig count the number of scales and determine the average number of scales by dividing the total number in the sample by 40. If there is more than an average of one scale per twig and heavy production of sooty mold is occurring, the orchard may require an immediate treatment. If the population on twigs or leaves is observable but sooty mold is not a problem, then it is best to postpone treatments until fall when scales are small, positioned on leaves on the outside of the tree, and generally easier to control.
To sample for citricola scale in late summer, walk down four evenly spaced rows of the block. In each row, pick one leaf from the northeast corner of 25 trees. Examine the scale on the underside of the leaf to determine if they are alive or dead. Count the number of leaves in the 25-leaf sample that are infested with live scale (presence-absence sampling). Record results (example form). A treatment is warranted if one or more of the four rows has 13 or more leaves infested with live citricola scale in a 25-leaf sample. If 5 to 12 leaves are infested, the population is building and should be watched very closely. If four or fewer leaves are infested, then a treatment is not needed this season.
Alternatively, count the number of nymphs on those 100 leaves (4 rows x 25 leaves) and if there are more than 0.5 nymphs per leaf then treatment is needed.
Treatment Timing and Relative Efficacy
If resistance is not a problem, chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) is the most effective insecticide for citricola scale control, followed by acetamiprid (Assail), buprofezin (Applaud), imidacloprid (Admire), and lastly oil.
Assail is the only insecticide effective against adult scales in spring before petal fall. However, it is fairly broad-spectrum and at this time of year only suppresses the females. Thus, it should not be used unless there is a severe problem that cannot wait until a summer treatment.
Most foliar treatments are applied during August-September because at that time of year the female scales have died, the nymphs are small and located on the outside leaves of the tree, and temperatures are warm, which makes the insecticides more effective. Because citricola scale are very sensitive to organophosphates and carbamates, rates lower than those recommended for armored scale can be effective.
Lower rates (2-3 pt chlorpyrifos [Lorsban] per acre) and delays in treatment until late October are suggested when parasites of California red scale need to be preserved. However, lower rates may result in a shorter period of control (1 year). Higher rates (6-12 pt chlorpyrifos [Lorsban] per acre) or application earlier in the season (August through September) are recommended if the population of citricola scale is very high or if California red scale must be controlled simultaneously.
Recently, some populations of citricola scale have been determined to have resistance to the organophosphate chlorpyrifos (cross-resistance to methidathion and carbaryl is likely a problem as well). These populations are not controlled by low rates of chlorpyrifos and high rates only suppress the population for one year. In these situations, avoid using organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. The insect growth regulator buprofezin (Applaud) is fairly selective (toxic only to vedalia beetles) and will suppress citricola scale during the season that it is applied. The neonicotinoids imidacloprid (Admire, Nuprid) and acetamiprid (Assail) are fairly broad-spectrum and will suppress citricola scale for one year. Admire and Nuprid are applied systemically in spring and the best use of Assail is in fall (September-October) after natural enemies have completed their activities. Citricola scale populations grow more rapidly and survive the summer better when the San Joaquin Valley experiences a cool, wet spring. When these conditions occur, the higher rates and earlier applications (August) are more effective.
UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Citrus
Insects, Mites, and Snails
Acknowledgments for contributions to Insect, Mites, and Snails:
PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.