dreaming of eating appreciating the young fruits on my Victoria Plum tree when I noticed some strange lumps on some of the branches (2 photos down). When I poked them, they fell off and left a white powdery substance on the branches. To my horror, they were actually scale insects!
According to Royal Horticultural Society, scale insects are sap-feeding pests with shell-like coverings which are attached to the bark. They like choosing young branches as their bark is thinner.
I have been growing this Victoria Plum tree for 6 years. It was about 2-3 years old when I planted it. It has only given me a handful of fruits. But this year, after my neighbour chopped down her nearby 15m tall tree, the Victoria Plum has been maturing fast! I have never seen so many fruits on the tree before and I am not going to let these scale insects weaken my chances of having yummy and juicy plums!
Upon Google search, I found that any pesticide for greenflies could get rid of scale insects. I chose to use Organic Bug Free Spray from Bayer Garden (photo from Capital Garden) because it is organic and it can be used on fruit and vegetables right up to harvest. But before I spray the tree, I use a plastic knife or bamboo skewer to scratch off as many of the scale insects as possible. I found that physical removal is far more effective than just spraying when it comes to insects like blackflies, greenflies and scale insects. I use the spray to deter and to kill those that are too high or too hidden for me to reach.
It is not a battle that I can win overnight but since I discovered this problem about 4 weeks ago, I have been checking and repeating the process of scraping and spraying. The number of scale insects has reduced a lot. My plum tree no longer looks like it has a lot of deformed lumps! Fingers crossed that the squirrels will not eat the plums before I do!
Just when I thought my scare was over, I noticed some cute tiny baby insects (just over 1mm large) on the underside of some leaves, freshly hatched from their eggs!! (Top photo) I first thought they were baby scale insects but they were actually brown marmorated stink bug babies. Their adults can be so desctructive that I found a whole website in America, called Stop Stink Bugs!, dedicated to sharing personal experiences with stink bugs and solutions to get rid of them. The stories on the forum are pretty horrific. I am glad that all I could find were babies and there is no sign of adult attack. I just removed the babies physically and got rid of them.
If your plants are unfortunately suffering from Stink Bug attack, I highly recommend checking that website out as there are loads of tried
and sometimes failed methods.