Italian pear scale may sound like a lovely antique find at your local flea market, but this pest can reduce tree vigor and fruit size..
While it is easy to figure, from the name, that this pest attacks pear trees, it can also be found on walnut, prune, and apple trees.
Italian pear scale description
Italian pear scale (Epidaspis leperii) females are purple, pink, or reddish. Like other scale insects, they spend most of their life hidden under a tiny, grey, circular cover, with an off center peak. This cover is only 1.5 mm in diameter. For us Americans, that works out to only 1/16 of an inch! To make finding them even more difficult, they may be hidden under moss or lichen. Male flying scales are too small to see.
Damage caused by Italian pear scale
This insidious pest does not attack fruit or nuts. Instead, in the relative safety of their dome-like home, they feed directly on the wood of the tree. Large infestations can lead to cracks in the bark, which allows other pathogens to enter. The strain on the tree also reduces growth and production, resulting in smaller sized fruit or nuts.
Controlling Italian pear scale
After leaf drop, monitor trees for scale infestation. You may need to scrape off moss or lichen to see these tiny pests. These scale insects seem to prefer scaffold limbs (the larger, horizontal branches). Heavy infestations can be treated with Bordeaux mixture.
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