What are these things on my palm tree?
March 17, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My palm tree has barnacles. What should I do?

The stem of my palm tree has something that looks like barnacles on it. I've treated it with insect spray, and am tempted to scratch them off. What are they, are they dangerous to the tree, and how should I treat them and prevent them coming back?
posted by devnull to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
They are called scale and can be treated by putting horticulture oil on the affected areas.

About horticultural oil.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2013

Yep, scale. They are sucking insects, what you are seeing is the adult form which is protected by a waxy shell. If left to their own devices, they will kill your plant by sapping (heh) its strength and providing an injury for disease to enter your plant. The oil works well, make sure you spray all sides of each leaf and the surface of the soil all around the plant in the same diameter as the spread of the plant's leaves. Re-apply the oil in two weeks to catch the new soft adults who are emerging from the soil and creeping up to your plant's foliage.

Personally, I'm rather fond of systemic insecticides to kill scale but can't speak to which systemic is safe for palms.
posted by jamaro at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2013

Yeah, I used to use this stuff on the scale on my palm tree. Dilute your equivalent to the manufacturers instructions then use a cloth to wipe off the scale insects while also coating the stems and undersides of the leaves of the plant. Wiping works a lot better than spraying in my experience (and my indoor palm was nearly as tall as I was before I sold it).
posted by shelleycat at 9:54 AM on March 17, 2013

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