Armored Scale

 While at the Garnett Preserve, we came across some scale on a Chittamwood (Sideroxylon lanuginosum subsp. oblongifolium) tree. It really was quite pretty. And my curiosity was stirred as well. Here is what I found…

This is a Chittamwood tree. When the new leaves are coming on, they are this light green unlike most of the other colors of other trees at this time of year.
The reason for the light color, I think it due to all the white hairs that cover the leaves. Later the leaves can sometimes be mistaken for a Live Oak’s leaves.
This is what caught my eye on the Chittamwood branch…the scale. It is so pretty. Sorta looks like cat eyes, don’t you think? Well, I never thought much about scale (because I’m not a gardener). So I had to bring some home and get a closer look and learn about it!
What I learned next about scale is that there are (of course) many species. Many species are so modified they look very little like other Hemiptera (True bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Psyllids, Whiteflies, Aphids and Scale insects). There are many different families of Scale. In fact, in the family I think this one belongs to there, about 310 species in 86 genera (source: The Study of Insects by Triplehorn and Johnson). 

I believe this scale belongs in the Diaspididae family or the Armored Scales. This is the underside of the hard shell. I’m not sure exactly what part of this is the insect. Apparently the females become stationary and make this shell. They lose their antennas and legs. They hatch their eggs and then the babies go out and then are known as crawlers. This is how they move to a new location. The males are more like gnats with wings. A number of the scales species can be pest to trees and shrubs. Their natural enemies are hard to determine besides humans. Some specific parasitoids were found in a study in Chile. I’m sure they have a place in the natural order of nature.


Also on the same branch, we saw these as well. I’m not sure if these are another species of scale or a gall thing.

Close up.

I cut one open and it was wet inside, but that is far as I went with this one.
We had frost this morning at our house! Our low was 33.6 degrees, but we have cold spots. In fact, several mornings our temperature read in the low to middle forties, we had frost in our cold spots. 

Really can see the hairs on this plant highlighted!

Even Hen-bit is pretty in frost. 🙂

FOS Texas Toad-flax (Nuttallanthus texanus) this morning!

Stay curious! And keep looking!


  1. Really interesting info about the scale, Mary. I find scale on a number of my plants and have wondered how it moves around since it appears quite fixed. Tiny ants seem to farm it and consume the honeydew the insects produce. They might help the crawlers move around too, I suppose. I sent photos and samples of these ants to an entomologist friend who told me they are in the genus Camponotus. Life is amazing.

  2. Suzanne, In my research of the scale, it did say that some ants do farm the honeydew of some species. Apparently it is very hard to study scale. It was also said that pesticides were not very effective on the Armored Scale because of their armor. I agree, life is amazing!

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