Worms are sucking insects from the order Homoptera proboscis (Homopter) of the coccid suborder, and the notorious scale insects and false shields are also included here. Since they develop and harm plants in a similar way, we will speak immediately about the whole trinity. Usually, without going into the subtleties of species differences, they are called “powdery” in the everyday life of any worm, on the basis that adult females (they are usually noticed first of all on plants) are covered with white soft waxy secretions, as if insects are sprinkled with flour . Females are quite large - up to 1 cm, sometimes more.
In our garden on the nettle live “giant” nettle worms, the wax tubes with which they are covered reach 2.5 cm. By the time of flowering, nettle stalks are strewn with garlands of worms, but since other plants do not interest them, we don’t fight them - let them help us get rid of nettles. Another thing, if coccids appeared on indoor plants, then urgent measures must be taken.
Scabies and false shields are small insects having a protective color, so they are very difficult to notice on plants. They look like more or less convex swellings on the leaves (along the veins, on the petioles, in the sinuses), in other places on the plant.
Why do some are scale insects, while others are false insects?
The scutellum of the first consists of wax secretions of the insect and many larval skins, which the larva discards as it grows until it is completely matured. Scabies are rather flat; they are extremely difficult to detect.
False shields are more convex, their shields are of different origin - their back covers are simply condensed, under which the female with eggs is located. In some species (pads), the eggs are located under a wax pillow on which a female, similar to a scale, sits on the side.
Insects breed quickly and, sucking juices from plants, can cause their death. On adult females (some sit still, once and forever clinging to a favorite place, others can move, but not quickly), no contact poisons work - pests are protected by a shield. Therefore, systemic poisons (Actellik, Rogor) are needed. These drugs penetrate the tissues of the plant, making their juice poisonous for a while, and coccids, having pumped it, die. But there are eggs under the shield of the females, from which even in the case of the death of the female larvae can emerge, which are not so well protected, but very mobile, for which they are called "strollers."
Once emerging from eggs, strollers crawl throughout the plant. Some suck on and begin to feed, overgrown with a scutellum and develop into an adult insect, others are transferred to neighboring plants with the slightest blow of wind and even just ascending air currents (for example, coming in winter from heating radiators). In this way, they can spread over long distances.
The fight against coccids has to be fought "on all fronts." They need to be cleaned from the plants, without waiting for the larvae to hatch, and often spray all the plants in the house with contact insecticides to destroy the already crawling insects. There are a lot of insecticides on sale, so I will not indicate the frequency of spraying and dosage - all this is in the instructions, do not forget to ask the sellers only.
But I do not advise relying solely on chemical treatments. Here prevention is very important. Plants on which coccids have been noticed should be inspected as often as possible so as not to miss the hidden and surviving pests.
About males koktsid - a special conversation
In some species of coccids, they do not exist at all, these pests breed only parthenogenetically, that is, the females lay unfertilized eggs, from which new females are hatched. In other species, males appear from time to time. But they do not live long - only in order to find and fertilize the female, they have no time and nothing to eat. Therefore, males do not harm plants directly, but as individuals participating in breeding, they are certainly undesirable. They, like little tramps, can be "taken" by contact poisons.
Carefully inspect each new plant brought into the house, not excluding the bouquets of flowers. "Novoselov" is better to be treated with pest preparations just in case or kept for at least 10 days (and in the cold season, when pests multiply more slowly and longer) in an empty room where there are no other plants. Or at least temporarily isolate the novice by covering it with gauze or a plastic bag.
Keep oranges, apples and other fruits home in the refrigerator. In a vase on the table, put only well-washed ones, especially for citrus fruits: sometimes whole colonies of coccidas nest on their rough skins.
No matter how quickly you want to attach a new acquisition to a permanent place and see how this plant will look among others, try to keep newcomers away from old-timers and inspect them several times a day. For example, citrus fruits, laurel, murraya, cacti, ficus, orchids inhabited by coccids came to me, but I managed to do without chemical treatments. In a few tricks, I discovered and destroyed all the pests manually.
- I. Vladimirova