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The Nunki Weeder
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Armoured Scale Insects

Armoured Scale Insects

These little pests are much the smallest of the Ďscalesí

Their ďarmourĒ is really a wax shell holding together their old skins which they got rid of as they grew up.

When they have grown up, they just stay where they are, they see no reason to go aítravelling.

They suck away at your plants quite happily in one place, they do like the kids to leave home as soon as they are hatched though.
They crawl off to pastures new in exactly the same way as the Ďsoftí scale young do.

As well as their armour, making them even more impervious to sprays, there are a couple of other things different about these little suckers and the soft scales.

They donít leave honey dew ( apparently because their huge mouths make them much more efficient feeders ) but they do need males to mate - although they donít hang around for long.

Typical you say ?
Well thatís not really fair, they cannot feed, and have just a day to get on with the job so to speak.
Thatís even worse than just ď15 minutesĒ of fame, although hopefully they enjoy it more !

Anyway, it must be a successful system, as these insects can breed three or four generations a year, rapidly reaching infestation levels if not stopped.

As with all scales - and mealybugs for that matter - itís our own fault if they are in our glasshouse or conservatory, we almost certainly brought them in on a plant or cutting.

Doesnít that just cheer you up no end to hear - particularly if you are now infested !

Well, if you have got them, our little wasps will not really be very good at dealing with them because of their armour.

But Nature has a cunning plan !

Chilocorus nigritus

A little black ladybird that will sniff them out
( Which it does - literally ! )

They live about 3 months as an adult, and boy can they eat !
Tucking into 5 - 7 armoured scales a day, probably more if the temperatures is to their liking, preferably around a balmy 24 degrees, although they will put up with less

But thatís not all !

As they roam around they constantly lay eggs, about two hundred altogether.
When the larvae emerge, about 5 days later, they get stuck in right away.
A definite chip off the old block !

Donít worry, they donít look so scary in real life and this has been magnified a bit ( theyíre only about 3 mm long.)

The larvae roam around for about three weeks, chomping away, before going off to pupate somewhere quiet.

About a week later, out pops the adult and off that old natural cycle goes again.

We believe these shiny black ladybirds are the only form of natural control for the armoured scale insects. The alternative is probably to live with them, or throw away the infected plants.

And I really hate doing that !

We think itís best to supply some grown ups and their larvae together, so your assured of continuing control.

10 Chilocorus nigritus
( doesnít that name just roll off your tongue ! )

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25 of these black ladybirds

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