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Soft Scale

Gyorgy Csoka, Hungary Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org
Parthenolecanium rufulum (Cockerell, 1903)
Soft scales are typically found on woody and foliage plants. The first nymphal instar is called a crawler and has functional legs, while the remaining instars are attached to the leaf or twig and (with the exception of green shield scale) do not move. These scales typically have a more conspicuous profile from the side view compared with armored scales and produce copious honeydew. The protective covering over a soft scale cannot be separated from its body. Brown soft scale adults are fairly flat in profile, range in color from yellowish green to brown, and are often spotted or mottled to uniform brown. Hemispherical scale adults are round, hard, brown, smooth and shiny. Black scale adults are globular and hardened with ridges on the back that look like the letter "H". Green shield scale, introduced into California in the early 1990s, has a light yellow-green color as an immature. Female green shield scales produce a mass of eggs in a cottony ovisac without mating (i.e., reproduction is parthenogenetic and there are no males).
Soft scales remove sap from plants and cause yellowing of leaves and overall plant decline. Green shield scale ovisacs and the honeydew excreted by all the soft scales disfigure plants. Honeydew allows the growth of black sooty mold fungi and attracts ants. Ants may then carry scales to uninfested plants as well as protect them from natural enemies such as predators and parasites.
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