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Like mealybugs or aphids, scale insects are among the most stubborn and unpleasant pests that primarily attack indoor plants. Orchids, an aromatic lemon tree or rubber trees are good food for the lice due to improper care and measures should be taken as soon as possible to protect the plants from infestation. The speed with which the scale insects multiply is particularly frightening. Only selected home remedies can help.

scale insects

What are scale insects?

Scale insects are a family of the plant lice order and can be found worldwide with up to 3,000 species. Coccoidea, as it is called in Latin, is represented by around 90 species in Central Europe and of these, mealybugs and mealybugs, for example, are often found in the homes of Germans. The female lice feed on the plant juices and use the energy gained from this to lay eggs, while the males only serve to reproduce.

scale insects

You can recognize scale insects by the following characteristics:

  • live in colonies
  • usually hidden on the underside of leaves, branches or shoots
  • form protective covers (e.g. made of wax), act like small armor or shields
  • Honeydew occurs as an excretion on the plant
  • Ants are attracted to honeydew

Once the plant lice have made themselves comfortable on the plants, they begin to feed on the juices and produce the eggs under their covering. These produce offspring that behave in the same way and so the plant suffers more and more from the infestation.

The following indoor plants are often affected:

  • Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Figs, including rubber trees (Ficus)
  • Lemon Tree (Citrus)
  • Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Flamingo flowers (Anthurium)
  • Ornamental asparagus (Asparagus densiflorus)
  • Monstera (Monstera)

If one of your indoor plants has been attacked by the scale insects, this will show up in the following symptoms.

  • white coating on the shoots and leaves
  • Leaves and flowers appear unhealthy
  • Shoots crust
  • Discoloration of the leaves occurs
  • unexpected leaf loss

Depending on the intensity of the symptoms, either prevention or one of the means is then necessary to put an end to the scale insects.

scale insects


prevent infestation

Home remedies do not have to be used if you do not neglect species-appropriate care, since scale insects primarily infest already weakened plants. Houseplants are most frequently attacked in the winter quarters when it is too dry or warm in the room due to the heating air. The following mistakes should be avoided in general care.

  • low humidity (drought)
  • Waterlogging/lack of water
  • over-fertilization/under-fertilization
  • not enough or too much light

If you follow the care instructions for your indoor plants, the risk of aphid infestation is extremely low. However, if you discover the first specimens on your orchids and the colony is still developing, you can scrape off the existing insects with a sharp knife. Use a sharp edge and guide it carefully under each individual animal. Do not cut into the carapace, this will have no effect and may release potential eggs or hatchlings. You can also injure shoots or leaves if you cut into the shield and do not lift the aphid from the plant.

Notice: The methods mentioned above are mainly used to maintain the health of the plant, because scale insects are primarily interested in already weakened plants.

home remedies

With 12 home remedies to success

Scale insects are stubborn pests, but there are a variety of home remedies that turn out to be effective against the pests after regular and thorough use. However, before using the funds, do the following to get rid of the lice on the plants.

  • isolate affected plants
  • provide fresh air near the plant
  • large amounts of direct sunlight, even for plants that are not used to it
  • spray the crop every day with water suitable for the plant
  • create temperature fluctuations so that the scale insects cannot get used to the room temperature
scale insects

This reduces the infestation and, above all, the possibility that other specimens of your houseplants will be infested. Then fight the insects with the following home remedies.

  • natural predators
  • Soft soap alcohol solution
  • nicotine
  • soapy water
  • fern
  • tea tree oil
  • potassium aluminum sulfate
  • Nasturtium
  • nettles
  • oregano
  • oils
  • denatured alcohol


You can remove part of the lice population via the natural predators, which is particularly gentle on orchids or anthuriums. They are insects that specifically hunt all forms of lice and are quite thorough. These include those listed below.

  • hoverflies
  • ladybug
  • predator beetle
  • parasitic wasps
  • lacewings

So that you don't have to catch the insects yourself in the wild, you can buy them in numerous specialist shops for animal or plant supplies. Of course, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of bringing more insects into their own four walls and the predators do not destroy an entire colony, but above all they help to decimate a large part of the population. This saves you a lot of work.


soft soap and alcohol

A solution of alcohol and soft soap is extremely effective as this home remedy is aggressive towards the animals. For this you need the following things.

  • 30 g soft soap
  • 30 ml ethanol (methylated spirits)
  • 2 l water (warmed)

Mix all the ingredients together and let the mixture stand for about half an hour. So it can easily unfold its effect. Now take a cotton swab, dip it in the solution and apply it directly to the scale insects. The household remedy will now eat its way through the shell into the louse and kill them. Repeat this process daily and use a knife to remove any scale insects that have died.

soft soap

Please note: Not all plants tolerate treatment with this agent. Test one of the smaller leaves or a side shoot with the solution beforehand and if it reacts negatively, use another home remedy.


Although this form of treatment is more dangerous for non-smokers, new parents and pet owners, scale insects can be combated extremely well with the pollutant. When using this remedy, it is best to use a face mask so that you do not inhale the fumes, which can irritate the mucous membrane. For this you need the following things.

  • about 200 g of loose tobacco, you will find it in every kiosk
  • 1 liter water (boiled)

Soak the tobacco in the water in a sealable container for an hour and apply the nicotine mixture with a brush, as with the soft soap solution. Cotton buds are not so good here, as the nicotine is applied over a large area of the plant and therefore no "fine work" is necessary. However, only treat the shoots, leaves and lice and leave the healthy parts of the plant alone. Repeat this every other day.

soapy water

Soapsuds are effective for fighting scale insects and organic curd soaps without chemical substances such as perfume are particularly suitable for this. That would only damage the plant. Just make a typical suds and generously wipe the affected areas with a cloth daily.


A fern extract works very well on a lemon tree or other larger houseplants. The extract here is a brew that you then fill into a spray bottle and spread over the plant. For the extract you will need the items listed below.

  • 10 g fern (dried) or 100 g fern (fresh)
  • 1 liter water (boiled)
sword fern

After you have prepared the broth, it should be diluted again with about ten liters of water. Now you can spray the entire plant extensively once a week. Fern has the advantage that it does not unpleasantly irritate the mucous membranes and can therefore be produced in large quantities without any problems. This makes it easier to fight scale insects that have chosen trees or other voluminous plants as their location.

Notice: If you use fresh fern, chop it before cooking. The broth should simmer for an hour before it can be diluted.

tea tree oil

Simply use tea tree oil here and apply it directly to the scale insects with a cotton swab. Be careful not to treat the plant with the tea tree oil as this would inevitably result in severe drying of the surface. Repeat this daily.

tea tree oil

potassium aluminum sulfate

Potassium aluminum sulphate or alum is sulphate of alumina that can be used efficiently for a wide range of applications. In the field of pest control, it consists of a variety of metals that break down the insects' shields, thereby killing them. Indoor plants should not come into contact with alum, otherwise the plant material will be damaged. Alum has an extremely intensive effect on insects and many indoor plants are completely free of infestation within a few applications. You will need the following materials for the solution.

  • 100 g potassium aluminum sulfate (powder)
  • 500 ml water (warm)

Simply dissolve the potassium aluminum sulphate in the water and then dilute it with another four liters, because this is the only way to protect the plant from the strong effects of the sulphate. You can get alum powder on the Internet or in the pharmacy, less often in the drugstore. This substance is a granulate, powder or salt that quickly dissolves in water and is therefore just as quickly absorbed by the shells of the scale insects. Again, use a cotton swab and apply the solution without wetting the plant parts. Repeat this daily until the infestation is gone.


Nasturtiums have been used as a medicinal plant for centuries and are also suitable as a brew. Since a brew is produced here, as with ferns, it can easily be used for plants such as a lemon tree, as it is simply sprayed onto the plant after preparation. For this you need the following things.

  • 200 g nasturtium
  • 1 l water (boiling)

Boil the cress for a few minutes and let it steep for another 30 minutes until you dilute it with another two liters. Above all, this increases the amount of the agent and you can spray it on the indoor plants once a week. The slightly pungent smell of the nasturtium is particularly noticeable over the brew and also drives away ants that are attracted by the honeydew of the lice.


You can also use nettles to make a decoction that you can use to remove pests from your houseplants. The natural ingredients are perfectly suitable against the pests and for this are needed.

  • 200 g nettles (fresh) or 20 g nettles (dried)
  • 1 liter water (cold)

Chop the nettles and let them soak in cold water for about eight hours. Covering these with foil helps to keep them from starting to ferment, which would be unsuitable as an insect repellent. After the eight hours, sift the remedy and pour the household remedy undiluted into a spray bottle. Now generously spray the plant parts and scale insects. Don't worry, you can't apply too much here, because nettles deliver nutrients to the plant at the same time and do not harm it, even orchids. Repeat this weekly until the houseplants have been rid of the scale insects.


Like nettle, oregano has many ingredients that can be used perfectly as home remedies. For this preparation you will need the following.

  • 100 g oregano (fresh) or 10 g oregano) dried
  • 1 l water (boiling)

Pour the oregano and let it steep for a quarter of an hour until you strain it and dilute it with three liters of water. Now apply the brew as a spray and repeat this weekly. A big advantage is the pleasant smell of oregano that pervades the house.


You can also apply olive oil or paraffin oil as an additional remedy. It blocks the oxygen intake of the animals and they die faster as a result. Apply either oil thinly twice a day, being careful not to snag the plant parts themselves.

olive oil

denatured alcohol

Like the oils, ethanol or denatured alcohol is a good adjunctive treatment. Spray the plant with the ethanol three to four times on the balcony or in the garden. This acts as a booster for other treatment methods.

After treatment

As soon as your indoor plants have been freed from the lice, you should cut off infested and weakened parts of the plant and dispose of them in the household waste, not in the compost. You should also repot the houseplants and wash out the roots beforehand, as some species of lice lay their eggs there.

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