Conserving natural enemies to battle ornamental industry pests

By Peter Kent

looking at scale insectsScale insects – smaller than one-half inch in diameter – can destroy ornamental shrubs and trees. The pest sucks juices from the plants, reducing new growth and causing leaves or entire branches to drop.

Clemson entomologist Juang-Horng Chong is leading a team of scientists in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia to develop an integrated pest management strategy for scale.

The team is studying oak lecanium scale that targets oak trees and has severely infested nurseries and urban landscapes in the southern U.S. They will gather life history information, determine the diversity and effectiveness of natural enemies and use both chemical and biological controls.

A model that combines temperature and insect life stages will be developed to determine the exact timing of pesticide applications during the most vulnerable period of the pest’s life.

Chong hopes that using less toxic, more targeted insecticides at the proper time in the pest’s development will conserve natural enemies that may be killed by broad-spectrum insecticides. The research is funded by a USDA grant.

For information: Juang-Horng Chong, 843-662-3526 x 224,