How to Control an Indoor Plant Pest Scale


In the animal kingdom, scales provide protective armor for delicate skin, but when it comes to plants, scales are far from protective. These tiny tan or brown insects cling to the stems of plants and suck out its energy. Often unnoticed, scales resemble tiny clam shells lining stems and stalks. Without immediate action, these pests threaten the health and life of your plants.

Step 1

Examine foliage and stems of plants for the presence of scales. Look carefully on the undersides of leaves and along stems.

Step 2

Check for sticky substance on leaves, plant pots or furniture. This is the result of sap or "honey dew" that seeps from the plants when scales feed. Honey dew on surfaces may develop a sooty black mold. Wash surfaces with warm soapy water to remove residue.

Step 3

Remove scales by hand or with tweezers if infestation is light. Check daily until plants are insect free for three weeks.

Step 4

Saturate a cotton swap with denatured alcohol and daub on individual scales for light to moderate infestations.

Step 5

Rub the scales free of the stem with your hands on small plants with light infestations.

Step 6

Use an insecticide soap or spray labeled for scales. Follow the recommended application rate and procedure on the container.

Step 7

Isolate infected plants until they are free of insects for three weeks. Scales spread to other plants in close proximity.

Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers
  • Cotton swabs
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Insecticide soap/spray
  • Soap


  • Iowa State University Extension: Scale Insects on Houseplants
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Houseplant Insect Control
Keywords: kill scale insects, insecticides for houseplants, insects on houseplants

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.