Inspect Camellias Now for Tea Scale

Posted On November 23, 2021— Written By and last updated by
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Tea scale is a very common insect pest of camellias, and can make quite a mess on the leaf undersides. As explained by entomologists at NC State University, “Tea scales feed on the underside of leaves causing chlorotic spots above. Large infestations reduce plant growth and cause leaves to drop making the plant sparse and unhealthy looking. The number of blooms also decreases with heavy infestations.”  The images below should be helpful in scouting for tea scale on your camellias.
Leaves

Adults are visible on the lower leaf surfaces; infested leaves may be more numerous in the lower
portion of the canopy. The males are white and also produce copious amounts of white strands.
Begin your inspection by looking for yellow splotches on the upper leaf surfaces.

Leaf up close

A closer view of females and males.

Nymph

Red arrow points to a nymph, or “crawler”, which is the developmental stage most vulnerable to insecticides such as horticultural oil. Crawlers have six tiny legs and two antennae. The blue arrow indicates a female, and the black arrow a male. On this sample, live crawlers were present in early November.