Soft scale insect

Similar to the hard scale insect and the aphid, soft scales are also a common type of lice. Despite their family ties, the soft scale insect differs from the aphid and the hard scale, as it has a shield on its back. This shield, unlike the hard scale's, is attached to it's back and is also what makes soft scale insects very hard to control.

Damage to the plant

The soft scale, like other lice, gets a plant's nutrients by burrowing into it's veins.  This increases the plant's risk of infection and can also cause the plant's leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall off from malnutrition.

Treatment

An advantage of the soft scale is that it does not move. Once the insect has formed it's hard shell, it stays in the same place, often at the bottom of a leaf. Chemical pesticides are not very effective against soft scale insects because of their strong shield. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to get rid of these bugs. If your plant is not too big, you can submerge it in water for 15-20 minutes, which will drown the insects. Another way to control a soft scale infestation is to soak a cotton ball with alcohol (not sweet alcohol, as this, will cause the plant to mould) and place it over the soft scale insects. After 10-20 seconds, the soft scale will be easy to remove from the plant's leaves. If this does not work, take a plant sprayer and mix 20ml kitchen oil, 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 250ml of water. Shake well and add another 2 litres of water to the sprayer. After shaking it once again, spray the soft scales every week until the infestation has disappeared.

Causes

Soft scales prefer plants with a wooden trunk and plants that are somewhat older or unhealthy. So ensure that our plant is strong and healthy to lower the risk of a soft scale infestation. Furthermore, soft scales prefer drier air and often enter a household by hitchhiking on clothes or pets. Because of this, a plant that is in the direct way of a draft is also more likely to become infected with soft scales.

Prevention

Regularly checking your plant for the presence of soft scales and ensuring that the humidity in your room does not become too low are the only things you can do to prevent your plant from becoming infected.
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