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RE: Brown Scale on ferns

Hi Bob-- I'm not sure if what you're asking is about how the scale are able
to spread/keep returning, but if that is it (or part of it), one thing that
may or may not be involved is the ant factor......I'm fairly certain that
ants carry around/spread various plant pests (not just aphids) and probably
have some symbiotic relationship with those pests in many cases.  If you
have ants anywhere around your plants/yard, then they may be helping to
create and perpetuate the problem.  One other thing......the weak organisms
are always the ones that are attacked....it's just a rule of nature--the
predators go after the easiest and weakest prey.  So the more you can
strengthen your plants and provide as close to an optimum set of growing
conditions as possible (yeah, good luck, eh?), the less likely they will be
susceptible.  The growing conditions are probably tougher to match for each
different plant, but I have noticed that when I give my plants some good
feeding regularly (I like using Earth Juice products, but that's just the
nature boy in me coming out), they seem to be more resistant to the bugs.
By the way.....I HATE SCALE TOO!   Good luck!
Robert Newman in Los Angeles

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ferns@hort.net [mailto:owner-ferns@hort.net]On Behalf Of Bob
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2004 6:29 PM
To: ferns@hort.net
Subject: [ferns] Brown Scale on ferns

O.K., before I nuke my plant collection to sve the planet, I figured that I
need to learn a little bit more about the enemy. That's right, I'm talking
about the terrorists of the turf, the Taliban of the fern world, SCALE!
As soon as I notice scale, I take the infected plant to a separate room,
"The Hospital".
It's about 50 feet away, and if I was a bug their size with their (probably)
short lifespan, I figure that's like me trying to walk from California to
New York without food or water over terrain like the Grand Canyon (carpet).
So that should work, right? I fastidiously wash my hands after touching
infected plants. I have been treating them with a Pyrethrin (0.02%) and
Piperonyl Butoxide (0.2%) commercial spray that claims to kill both thrips &
scale. I have been diluting it to 50% with water (adding a drop of liquid
dish soap as a surfactant) because it seems to really whack the ferns.
When I treat an infected plant, I spray, then hand-inspect all surfaces with
a 10X loupe, scraping up and disturbing any scale I see with an X-Acto
blade, letting my Witches Brew do it's deadly task! BWAAA-Haa-Haa! This does
seem to be effective. Plants are then inspected every few days, and treated
again if necessary. If the plant shows no more signs of infection after a
week or two, it goes to a separate "Recovery Room" for another week or two
for observation. Plants in these rooms do not touch, and I do more
handwashing than a doctor. If the plants then seem to be "clean" they are
then allowed to return to normal civilian life, providing Oxygen for my few
remaining brain cells.
O.K., here's the questions:
1) I've already figured out that Thrips can fly (I've swatted a few and put
their sorry little mangled remains under the ferocious glare of a
stereomicroscope). It's a little like trying to figure out what kind of a
watch it was before a truck ran over it, but if you get enough samples (and
learn to swat gently), one can figure it out eventually.
2) Here's the main question: All the scale I've seen leads me to believe
that they are pathetic little feeble slimebutts with brains the size of
little carried away there... BREATHE!  O.K., I'm better now. But seriously,

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