Growing Concern

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Common Problems

Scale on Japonica - Scales

Scale insects feed on plants by piercing plant tissue and sucking sap. They are small and invisible. Usually they look like small fish scales attached to the plant which is why they can reach damaging levels before they are noticed.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny parasitic insect pests that usually live on the underside of plant leaves. They thrive in hot, dry climates. They may spin protective silk webs and cause damage to plants by puncturing they plant cells to feed. Their accelerated reproductive process enables them to adapt quickly to pesticides, making chemical control methods tricky.

Fire Blight Damage

Fire blight is a destructive and highly infectious bacterial disease that attacks blossoms, leaves, shoots, branches, fruits of plants. It affects mainly plants in the genus Prunus such as Pears, Apples, Cherry Laurels, and some species in the Rosaceae family. In El Paso we see it mostly on flowering Pears, Crab Apple, Cherry Laurel, and Pyracantha. Management includes proper pruning, avoiding heavy nitrogen fertilization and selection of resistant plant material. Chemical controls is not always effective but agricultural streptomycin spraying will help when applied at flowering. Two successive applications seasonally are required for control.

Cochineal Scale

Cochineal scale or “crimson” scale usually affects prickly pear and chollas cacti. The insect produces a white tuft that looks like cotton candy. If not treated, it kills and weakens the plant as it sucks out the cacti’s juices. At the beginning stages, one can usually keep spraying them off with water. For heavy infestation will require chemical control methods.

Nocturnal Beetle Damage

These beetles tend to feed at night. Most will eat leaves, leaving the plant exposed and weak. The beetles make small rounded ‘chomp’ bits out of the leaves. Chemical control methods are usually needed to rid gardens of infestations.

Black Aphids

Normally found during warmer months on the undersides of leaves and growing tips. Populations grow very quickly on crops, ornamental and wild plants. They suck sap from the plants and cause distortion, stunted growth, reduced harvest and ruined crops. They are also carriers of various plant diseases and plant mold. Chemical control methods are needed to control methods are needed to control and eradicate populations.

Pine Needle Scale Damage

Pine needle scale is considered the main pests that attack pine trees. They lay eggs over winter, which hatch in May. They suck plant fluids, which cause the needles to turn yellowish brown. Severe infestation results in compromised plant health, sparse foliage and death. Infected trees may take a white washed appearance. Chemical control methods must be used in cases of infestations.

For more information visit:

New Mexico State Universities Agricultural Extension Site

The University of Arizona's Extension Site