Applying Systemic Soil and Foliar Spray Insecticides to Control Florida Wax Scale on Hollies - Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University - Extension Publications
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Apr 2005

Applying Systemic Soil and Foliar Spray Insecticides to Control Florida Wax Scale* on Hollies

Bastiaan M. Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist





1. Assemble proper equipment (product, applicator, protective
Be sure protective clothing and application equipment are
clean and in good repair from previous use before proceeding. Clean
and store equipment and protective clothing properly after making an


2. Properly mark designated equipment. If using a sprinkler can or
other equipment for making pesticide application, write “Chemical Use
Only” on the container. Do not use this equipment for other purposes.
Do not use herbicides in application equipment used for insecticide or
miticide treatments.


3. Read the product label thoroughly. The label will specify what
safety equipment is required such as gloves or goggles, long-sleeved
shorts, pants and shoes. Review section to determine the application
rate and concentration of material to be applied. Review any re-entry
intervals, if any.


4. Measure plant height. When using Bayer ® Advanced™ Tree &
Shrub Insect Control containing imidacloprid, the use rate (gallons of
dilute solution to drench around the root zone) varies with plant height.
Prune the plant to eliminate heavily-infested leaves to reduce plant
height and allow regrowth to be protected by the insecticide.



5. Wear proper personal protection. Mixing concentrated insecticide
from the container with water is possibly the most hazardous part of
using a pesticide. Wear gloves and other clothing described on the
product label before opening the container and mixing.


6. Shake the container. Some pesticide formulations will settle and
separate during long periods of storage. Allways, shake the container to
agitate the contents before opening.


7. Partially fill the applicator tank or container with water. This
step will help the concentrate material go into solution and prevent
concentrate insecticide from coating the sides of the applicator
container. Adding more water later will help stir this solution.



8. Add proper amount of insecticide product. The product label will
provide the amount to mix with a volume of water. To control “soft
scales” (including Florida wax scales) on holly shrubs, apply 3 fluid
ounces per foot of height to the root zone or soil underneath the shrub.
Use a designated measuring cup that is well marked to avoid misusage.


9. Pour concentrate into application container and rinse measuring
cup or spoon.
Using water to fill the applicator, rinse the measuring
cup or spoon three times to help remove concentrate insecticide and
mix it into solution.


10. Apply diluted solution to root zone. Sprinkle insecticide solution
on soil underneath the canopy of the shrub. Systemic insecticides like
imidacloprid are moved from the roots in the soil to the leaves. Do not
apply to water saturated soils. The solution must penetrate into soil and
stay in place for roots to pick up the active ingredient.



TIMING: This application needs to occur several weeks before egg
hatch of this soft scale species. In Texas, the Florida wax scale has two
distinct generations, one in late-April and the second in late-August.
Scales located on branches and twigs may be unaffected by systemic
insecticides, so foliar treatments may also be required to eliminate an infestation. Monitor the occurrence of new young scales on leaves
in late May and late September to determine treatment success.


1. Carefully read the label directions on the container or labelling
leaflet supplied with the container.
Directions provide information
about personal protective clothing, timing(s) for making application(s),
and equipment required and rate of product to apply. Orthene® Tree,
Turf and Ornamental Spray is a soluble powder formulation of the
active ingredient, acephate (75% concentrate).

2. Fill applicator container with some water. Make sure the
applicator works. Seals in older compression sprayers can prevent
pressure build up in the tank or the nozzel may be clogged. Also use
this water to help agitate the concentrate insecticide so it can mix into a
dilute solution.


3. Measure out the proper amount of concentrate insecticide. For
scale insect control Orthene® Tree, Turf and Ornamental spray is
applied at a rate of 1 tsp per gallon. Use a designated measuring spoon
(marked “poison”) while wearing proper application equipment.



4. Fill applicator with remaining amount of water. In this
demonstration, a small 2 pint compression sprayer is being used,
requiring only 1/8 tsp. 75% acephate. Adding water after adding the
soluble powder helps agitate the solution to mix the insecticide to
make a dilute solution. Use larger equipment for larger tasks.



5. Wear goggles, gloves, long pants and long sleeved shirt. As
directed on the product label, but particularly when using fine droplet
sprays and needing to crawl through shrubbery, take all precautions to
avoid getting dilute insecticide solution in eyes or on skin.




6. Pump up sprayer. Use manufacturer’s recommendation to
pressurize the sprayer tank. Agitate the insecticide solution again
before spraying. Use up all the mixed spray solution. Do not leave
unused solution in the sprayer because the insecticide will decompose
and the liquid will corrode and ruin the applicator.



7. Start spraying the most inaccessible areas first and back away
from treated foliage areas.
Avoid brushing up against just-sprayed
foliage. Spray the undersides of the lowest leaves first.



8. Treat upper leaf surfaces last. The Florida wax scale settles mainly
on upper leaf surfaces. However, some egg-laying females can be
found on branches, twigs and the underside of leaves. Thorough
coverage is necessary to eliminate the whole population.

Orthene® or acephate is a foliarly-applied contact and systemic
insecticide that is absorbed into leaf tissues and is moved by the plant
to new growth. Scales contacted by the spray will be killed, and the
foliage containing acephate will kill young scales settling and
beginning to feed on the plant sap. Other foliar spray products, such as
those containing malathion, insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, have
no systemic activity and have little or no residual or long-lasting
activity. These products must be re-applied so that all scales are

TIMING: In Texas, the Florida wax scale eggs hatch primarily twice
per year, although some eggs can hatch at any time. Egg hatch occurs
over a period of several weeks during each generation (late April and
late August). Foliar sprays are most effective when applied during the
period when the crawler stages of this scale insect first settle on foliage
to start feeding.

The Orthene® label recommends applying this foliar spray at 2 week intervals through the egg hatch period. If using products with ingredients that do not provide a long period of control, such as insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, re-treatments may be required more frequently. Always monitor plants for signs of phytotoxicity from the spray, such as discoloration, browning or leaf drop. Monitor success of foliar sprays by looking for newly settled young scale insects developing on leaves after treatments.

For more information about Florida wax scales, see: “Florida Wax Scales: A Major Pest of Hollies and Other Landscape Shrubs and Trees” (visit

For educational presentations through County Extension faculty, use these fact sheets with the PowerPoint program, “Florida Wax Scale Biology and Management” (CD-25) available from the Audio-Visual Library (


The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Cooperative Extension Service is implied.

Acknowledgments. The authors are grateful for reviews of earlier versions of this manuscript by James Reinert, Michael L. Williams, Carlos Bogran and Scott Ludwig. April 12, 2005