Physical Characteristics

Scale insects are tiny insects that live on plants. The adult females attach themselves, like barnacles, to stems or fruit, where they can suck plant sap out through mouthparts. There are around 8,000 species of scale insects; many of these appear to be tan to brown in color, but that’s the waxy covering they excrete to protect themselves from predators – like small wasps, which lay eggs on them that can hatch into larvae that dine on the scale insects. Other scale insects look like oyster shells. But scale insects are classified under the order Hemiptera, which also include aphids, bed bugs, cicadas and other so-called true bugs.

Scale Insect


Scale insects are parasites that suck the sap, or lifeblood, from plants. They can do a lot of damage to plants if their population grows beyond what their host plant can sustain. This can happen if their natural enemies, such as small wasps or lady beetles, are chased off by ants, which will defend scale insect “plantations” for the sugary honeydew the scale insects excrete. Aside from ant activity, another problem with the scale insects’ honeydew is that it can grow a blackish, sooty mold, which triggers allergies in some people.


Because adult female scale insects are protected by their waxy coverings, application of pesticides often does not work, and even can backfire if the materials you spray eliminate the scale insects’ natural predators. Your Clark Pest Control technician is highly trained to evaluate your scale insect infestation and devise the smartest, most effective solution.

Latin name: Coccoidea, families Coccidae, Diaspididae, et al.