WSU Extension


Boron deficiency 
Green algae 
Phytophthora leaf & twig blight 
Red leaf spotting 
Brown soft scale 
Cottony camellia scale 
Holly bud moth 
Holly leafminer 
Lecanium scale 
Orange tortrix 

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Caption: Brown soft scales
Photo by: A.L. Antonelli
Holly : Brown soft scale
(revision date: 3/22/2021)

Brown soft scales are yellowish to dark brown insects (adults are usually darker) up to approximately 1/8" in diameter. They are found mainly on the underside of leaves or on green twigs. Soft scales produce large amounts of honeydew, a sweet, sticky material which may attract ants or become covered with a growth of dark sooty mold. Heavy scale infestations can cause branches or whole plants to become wilted or yellowish or show other signs of stress. Brown soft scales are also common on camellia, dogwood, and daphne, as well as being serious pests of houseplants and greenhouse ornamentals.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Prune and destroy heavily infested branches, when practical.
  • Minor infestations may be wiped off by hand when practical.
  • Ladybird beetles, parasitic wasps, and other natural enemies help control scale populations outdoors. Avoid use of broad-spectrum insecticides which kill these beneficial insects.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Scout for crawlers. Insecticide applications can be effective when applied to control the immature crawlers stage, usually in late spring to early summer. Oils are effective in the delayed dormant period. Use superior type oil sprays only on overwintering nymphs. Homeowners should not make foliar applications to trees over 10 ft tall. Consult a commercial pesticide applicator for treatment of trees and shrubs over 10 ft. tall.

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.
  • All Seasons Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil Conc [Organic]
    Active ingredient: oil/pet distillate  |  EPA reg no: 4-80
  • Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap Conc II [Organic]
    Active ingredient: potassium salts of fatty acid  |  EPA reg no: 42697-60
  • This list may not include all products registered for this use.

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Caption: Brown soft scales
Photo by: A.L. Antonelli