Holly: Cottony camellia scale

categories: Holly Holly Insects Ornamentals Shrubs

revision date: 2023-04-04 12:00

Cottony camellia scale on holly leaves.
Cottony camellia scale on holly leaves
Photo by: A.L. Antonelli


The cottony camellia scale is a flat brownish or yellowish insect about 1/8″ in diameter. The scales overwinter on twigs or evergreen leaves. In the spring, the adult females lay cottony egg masses on the underside of leaves. Crawlers (young scales) feed on the underside of leaves. Cottony camellia scales produce large amounts of honeydew, a sweet, sticky material which may attract ants or become covered with a heavy growth of dark sooty mold. Foliage with scale infestations may turn yellowish and appear stressed. Eventually, the plant may become weakened. Cottony camellia scales also infest camellia, yew (Taxus spp.) and occasionally other ornamentals including hydrangea, English ivy, and maple.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Remove any cottony egg masses found on leaves.
  • Hand-pick scales when practical to control minor infestations.
  • Prune and destroy heavily infested leaves and branches when practical.
  • Avoid use of broad-spectrum insecticides which may kill natural enemies of scales.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • 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.

Approved Pesticides

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.

Additional Image