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Old 10-26-2010, 07:44 PM   #1
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Default waxy scale on sweet box

My poor sweet box shrubs have major problems.
Two of them are shedding leaves like crazy,
waxy scale on sweet box-sweetbox-infected-scale.jpg
all three have these waxy scales on their stems (see photos).
[ATTACH]waxy scale on sweet box-sweet-box-waxy-scale-2.jpg[/ATTACH]
I found one white creature that looks kind of like a mealy bug but is probably the crawling stage of the scale insect (see photo).
waxy scale on sweet box-sweet-box-white-critter.jpg
There are some open areas on the stems as well (sorry the photo isn't great quality)
waxy scale on sweet box-sweet-box-stem-lesion.jpg
My question is whether scale insect infestion alone causes this degree of leaf loss, and the odd stem lesions, or if I need to look for another pest; and what is the best cure. I have sprayed them with horticultural oil and started watering them more. I think they got majorly drought stressed this summer, since the one of the three that looks the best is the one nearest the spigot and gets the most incidental water. I haven't been in the habit of watering these guys in the past three years and they had done fine, but maybe this year I should have. I have looked them over pretty carefully and haven't found any other obvious insects.

These may not be native, but I'm fond of them. Their scent is lovely in the early spring, and they are large, evergreen shrubs that the birds like to hang out in. A master gardener at the NCBG told me the best cure was to remove them before the (probable) Indian wax scale infected my whole yard. I'm hoping y'all have a better answer than that for me.
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waxy scale on sweet box-sweet-box-stem-waxy-scale.jpg  
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:05 PM   #2
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No comments at all after two weeks, my usually chatty friends???? I must have y'all stumped... My poor sweet box must be boxed... There is likely no good answer to be had, and if you have nothing good to say, you should say nothing at all (I think Thumper said that in Bambi)

They are looking a bit better after the horticultural oil. I tried cutting into one of the stem lesions to look for borers of some kind and found zilch. I've had chickadees perching on the branches pecking, so maybe they are eating whatever is attacking my shrubs (I find it, hard to believe they recognize the waxy, immobile scale as food, but who knows).
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Old 11-12-2010, 11:41 AM   #3
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I think you're right, people were stumped. I'd never heard of these shrubs before, but sweet box (Sarcococca) is a pretty good name for them, a fragrant shrub in the Buxaceae (Box family). At first, I thought you might be the only person on earth who would describe a boxwwod's fragrance as "sweet". I admire boxwoods, and the scent brings back some nice memories, but I wouldn't have caled it sweet. So I was entirely confused about this plant's identity!

There appears to be three different insects at work there, and I wouldn't know if any of them are the culprit or not. The dry summer could have weakened it, like you said, and left it vulnerable to someting that might not normally have been a problem.

I lost an inkberry holly this summer, which is normally a really tough plant - and the one right next to it is in great shape!?

I have some neem oil, but I can't even remember the last time I used it. Native plants have a big advantage in the pests and diseases department. There's usually another organism around to limit the problem.

Sorry, I'm no help.
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box, cure, damage, disease, indian wax scale, infected, infection, infested, leaf loss, pathogen, pest, pests, plant, plant problem, scale, scales, stem lesions, sweet, waxy, waxy scales

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