How To Tell If Scale Insects Are Dead?

Scale insects are troublesome and harmful to plants since they suck saps from plants and cause wilting, yellowing, or even death if the infestation is severe. Would you like to learn how to get rid of scale insects and know how to determine if they are already dead? We investigated the topic, and here's what we found.

You can tell if scale insects are dead by rubbing your finger through the leaves and checking whether the pests covering the leaf shed off quickly.

To learn more about scale insects and find different ways to deal with them, continue reading this post.

How To Determine If Scale Insects Are Dead

macro shot of many tiny tortoise scale insect.

Scale insects don't fall off the plant even after treating them with insecticides. So, you need to check if they are dead and manually remove them from your plants.

To do this, rub your thumb against the underside of one leaf. The scales are still alive if there's a residue of color or the leaf feels wet-like to the touch. However, if you see the scales flake off, it means they are dead.

How To Get Rid Of Scale Insects

Before starting any treatment, it is critical to determine what type of insects you are dealing with to avoid wasting time and money on the wrong treatment method.

Scales are tiny, round, and elliptical-shaped insects that can cause severe damage to your plants if not treated immediately.

Types Of Scale Insects

macro shot of many tiny tortoise scale insect., How To Tell If Scale Insects Are Dead?

There are two groups of scales:

Armored Scales

These scales have hard protective shells like armor. They are the most common pests encountered in gardens and households.

Soft Scales

Soft scales produce honeydew and waxy coatings. Honeydew attracts other pests like wasps and ants. Furthermore, it eventually rots and invites sooty mold.

Controlling The Scale Insects

These are the methods to control scale insects:

Rinse Off

Thoroughly wash the plants using a sprayer or spray nozzle to yank off as many dead and alive scales as possible. Then, dry the plants before applying insecticides.

Rub Alcohol

Isolated Alcohol Bottle

One of the most efficient methods to control scales is rubbing alcohol. Alcohol repels insects at home by driving them away and suppressing their breathing, which causes death. Thus, it is a natural repellent and a pesticide.

Steps on how to use alcohol as a pesticide:

  1. Use a cotton bus and dab it in 70% alcohol.
  2. Test first on one leaf and leave it for a few days to see if it burns the plant. If not, you may continue using alcohol to control the scales.
  3. If you notice damage on the tested part of the leaf, try to use alcohol with a lower percentage or find an alternative pesticide. But if alcohol doesn't cause any damage on the test leaf, directly wipe the scales manually using cotton buds dabbed in alcohol.

Dub Neem Oil

Neem oil in bottle green leaf and neem fruit on wooden bowl isolated on white background

Neem oil is a non-toxic, natural solution for controlling and killing scale insects since it contains various compounds that make it an effective insecticide. Neem oil is also effective in controlling powdery mildew and black spots.

Because neem oil is natural, it is safe around children and pets and not harmful to beneficial insects like ladybugs.

You can purchase neem oil in a local garden center at an affordable price. 

Dip cotton buds or balls in neem oil, and then apply directly on infested parts to remove scales. Alternatively, you can dip a toothbrush or a soft brush in neem oil and brush it directly on the scale insects. You can also use a sprayer and directly spray neem oil on your plants.

Repeat the application once every week to eliminate scales for severe scale infestations.

Find neem oil on Amazon.

Spray Insecticidal Soap

Using homemade insecticidal insect spray in home garden to protect roses from insects or fungus.

Insecticidal soap is ideal for killing soft-bodied scale insects and other pests, including mealybugs, lace bugs, aphids, mites, leafhoppers, spider mites, whiteflies, and thrips. Unfortunately, it does not affect hard-bodied insects.

Spray the insecticidal soap directly on the insects for desired results. Ensure you cover all parts of the plant surface, especially the undersides. But do not spray on sunny days to avoid burning the plants - it is recommendable to spray it in the morning or on cloudy days.

Click here to check insecticidal soap on Amazon.

Apply Horticultural Oil

Horticultural oil blocks insect respiration, which causes clogs in breathing. It is best to apply horticultural oil in spring to summer and avoid applying in freezing weather to prevent uneven coverage and breakdown.

Some plants are sensitive to horticultural oil. So, check the product's label for instructions. Some manufacturers suggest using 3% to 4% concentration during the dormant season. However, the safest is 2% to avoid plant damage.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Selective focus of hydrogen peroxide solution in brown amber bottle.

Using hydrogen peroxide as an insecticide is another effective method for getting rid of scale insects. Make a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle and directly spray the mixture into the infested areas to remove the pests.


Azadirachtin is an organic pesticide that controls soft-bodied insects. It acts as an insect growth regulator, repellant, and sterilant. Azadirachtin is effective in controlling the early life stages of insects.

Click here to check Azadirachtin on Amazon.

How To Prevent Scale Infestation

Here are some other tips on preventing scale insects infestation:

  • Isolate the infested plants as soon as possible to contain further spread.
  • Replace the top part or the entire potting soil if there is a recurring infestation.
  • Prune severely infested leaves and dispose of them properly.
  • Always maintain the cleanliness of the surrounding area where insects can hide to avoid crawlers.
  • Regularly apply natural insecticides for proper maintenance.
  • If you repot the plant and reuse an old pot, make sure you sanitize the pot.
  • Build an environment that can attract pollinators around your plants.

What Are The Best Insecticides For Scales?

Listed below are the recommended insecticides to get rid of scale insects:

Monterey Horticultural Oil

Monterey Horticultural Oil is an excellent treatment for insect infestations, such as leaf miners, aphids, whiteflies, thrips, mealy bugs, spider mites, scales, and many more. This product is ideal for organic gardening, approved by OMRI.

Find Monterey on Amazon.

Bonide Insect Control

Bonide kills aphids, scales, boners, leaf miners, adelgids, emerald ash borer, and more. Use this product on ornamental trees, nuts, fruits, and shrubs. Apply on soil for the roots to absorb and protect the plants from infestations.

See Bonide on Amazon.

Bio-Advanced Systematic Plant Fertilizer And Insecticide

Bio-Advanced offers 12-month protection with one application on your plants. This product kills aphids, Japanese beetles, emerald ash borers, leaf miners, and caterpillars, among other insects.

It has a slow-release fertilizer formula that provides food to your plants for health improvement while protecting them from infestations.

Check out BioAdvanced on Amazon.

Earth's Ally Plant Spray

This plant spray is an organic 3-in-1 miticide, insecticide, and fungicide. It kills soft-bodied insects, such as scales, mites, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, leaf rollers, and spider mites. It also controls diseases like downy mildew, powdery mildew, canker, blight, leaf spot, and black spot.

Earth's Ally consists of peppermint oil, clove oil, rosemary oil, and thyme oil. It is safe for pets, people, and the environment.

Find Earth's Ally on Amazon.

Natria Neem Oil

Natria neem oil is safe on vegetables, fruits, and delicate flowers like roses. It kills aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, caterpillars, beetles, and midges, among other pests. Also, it controls diseases such as botrytis, black spots, powdery mildew, rust, and scabs.

Apply directly to your houseplants and outdoor plants at the first sign of insect or disease problems.

Click here to check Natria on Amazon.

In Conclusion

We hope that the information shared in this post has helped you to determine if scale insects are dead. We also hope that you are adequately equipped to control scale insects. 

For more helpful tips and further discussion about scale insects, please read these posts:

When To Spray For Scale Insects?

Will Diatomaceous Earth Kill Scale Insects?

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