Sticky Palm Tree Leaves: Treatment For Palm Scale

Palm Scale On Palm Tree Leaves
palm scale
(Image credit: Slobodan Markovic (via Facebook with permission))

Palm trees have become very popular plants in the past few years. This is understandable because most palm trees tend to be easy to care for and elegant looking. However, there is one pest that can be particularly troublesome and this would be scale. Palm leaf scales can cause damage and even the death of the palm tree.

Signs of Scale on Palm Tree Leaves

There are two very noticeable signs of scale on palm trees:

  • One is that the palm tree leaves will become covered in a sticky substance. This sticky substance may become so plentiful that it will drip off the palm tree leaves onto the floor. This sticky substance will be difficult to remove and will return if you do remove it.
  • The other sign of scale on palm trees will be small brown or tan bumps somewhere on the palm tree leaves. Palm leaf scales will be difficult to remove from the leaf as well.

What are Palm Leaf Scales?

The palm leaf scales are actually a small, mature female insect. They literally are just a small, headless, legless bump and once the female has matured, it is unable to move from where it has planted itself. Palm leaf scales damage the palm tree by inserting a straw-like appendage into the palm tree and sucking the fluids out. One scale will not hurt a tree but as they multiply, the sheer numbers can slowly kill a tree.

Treatment for Palm Scale

Palm leaf scales are very difficult to get rid of, but it can be done. Typical treatment for palm scale is to repeatedly spray the palm tree leaves with horticultural oil or a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water mixed with some bleach-free dish soap. If you have the patience, you can paint straight rubbing alcohol onto each scale individually. Neem oil sprays may also help.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.