Monitor Pine Needle Scales

— Written By

Pine needle scales are relatively easy to find and to monitor for crawler activity. Stare at the needles of any urban pine for a minute and you will see white flecks on the needles. These are the scales. You can flip the covers with a pin while looking at them with a hand lens.The females are purple blobs the eggs, if present , will spill out as tiny purple ovals.

Pine needle scale with cover removed to show eggs beneath

Pine needle scale with cover removed to show eggs beneath. Photo: SDF

They have one generation per year in far northern states but 2 generations per year from Pennsylvania south. They over winter as eggs in the North but probably overwinter as eggs and as adult females in many places.

Pine needle scale, Chionaspis pinifoliae, is virtually indistinguishable from pine scale, Chionaspis heterophyllae. The difference, if there is one, is not really important for management since they look the same and have similar life history. Wait until crawlers hatch then use horticultural oil or if necessary something stronger like an insect growth regulator. Check the brand new Nursery and Landscape Pest Control Guide.

Pine needle scale hosts include loblolly pine, scots pine, mugo pine, white pine, and and

Pine needle scale

Pine needle scale. Photo: SDF

other conifers including Abies, Picea, Pseudotsuga, and Tsuga.

Every tree has a few so don’t worry about them. Some trees become very infested especially in urban settings where trees may be stressed and natural enemies in low abundance or diversity.