Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Scale insects; ornamentals; zebras

They are so tiny I couldn't get a photo, but my tangerine tree is infested with scale insects.  The first sign was ants traveling up the tree over a week ago.  Despite knowing better, I ignored that, thinking that maybe there were just some aphids in the young leaves.  Then I noticed a few 1/2 inch long, 1/4 inch wide, white, fluffy scale insects near the base of the tree.  They were still soft and juicy when I squished them over the weekend, so I figured they had not yet laid eggs and I was safe.  (Sorry that in my zeal to get them out of the tree I forgot to take a photo first.)  But today I noticed more ants traveling throughout the tree, and on closer inspection found multiple scales on the limbs, petioles and leaves.  These were a different type, and may already be too far along in their life cycle (no longer young crawlers, but stuck down to the leaf with a hard, protective shell over them) to kill easily.  In hope not, and I sprayed the tree with horticulture oil in an effort to control them.  I will spray again in 10 days, and will be upset if my lack of attention means that my prize tree has a scale infestation that is beyond the treatment stage!   

Ornamentals are just amazing right now, especially the perennial flowers.  Here is a little sample of Mexican petunia (Rubelia brittoniana) and tickseed (Coreopsis).  Note that the Mexican petunia has been put on the invasive plant list in Florida, and may spread readily and take over a bed here in coastal North Carolina.  I want it to fill in this bed, but will cut off the seed pods before they mature to prevent it's spread by seed.  Finally, look at this zebra tomato.  The plant was a gift, and the name on the tag has washed off with the rain, but this tomato plant is almost an ornamental.   It is covered with these striped beauties.