Cottony growths invade holly leaves and yews


June 06, 1999

Q. There are lots of yucky white growths on the bottom of my holly leaves and all over my yews. I've never seen them before. Are my plants in trouble?

A. Cottony camelia scale attacks holly, yews, camelia, euonymous, hydrangea and other landscape plants. The white waxy growths are egg sacs produced by the female scales. The crawlers that are emerging will suck the juices from plant foliage.

No action is necessary if you're seeing a light infestation. But if your plants are covered with these sacs, you could apply insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, which will kill the crawlers on contact. And a dormant-season spray of horticultural oil will help reduce the overwintering population.

Q. The flea beetles are already after my eggplant. I hate to resort to using a chemical insecticide like Sevin. Are there any good alternatives?

A. Try covering your plants entirely with a floating row cover. It will exclude those pesky flea beetles, but it also will reduce yields somewhat because eggplant is partially cross-pollinated by bumble bees.

An old-time remedy calls for creating a barrier by lightly dusting your plant leaves with bread flour or finely ground limestone. Reapply after a rainfall. Botanical insecticides like rotenone and neem will slowly kill the beetles but need to be reapplied throughout the growing season.


1. Pick insect pests off your vegetable plants. Drop the egg masses, larvae and adults into a bucket of soapy water. Look on the undersides of leaves for lurking pests.

2. Water annual and perennial plants deeply and regularly and place an organic mulch around plants to conserve soil moisture.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at

Pub Date: 06/06/99

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