General biology and current management approaches of soft scale pests (Hemiptera: Coccidae).
We summarize the economic importance, biology, and management of soft scales, focusing on pests of agricultural, horticultural, and silvicultural crops in outdoor production systems and urban landscapes. We also provide summaries on voltinism, crawler emergence timing, and predictive models for crawler emergence to assist in developing soft scale management programs. Phloem-feeding soft scale pests cause direct (e.g., injuries to plant tissues and removal of nutrients) and indirect damage (e.g., reduction in photosynthesis and aesthetic value by honeydew and sooty mold). Variations in life cycle, reproduction, fecundity, and behavior exist among congenerics due to host, environmental, climatic, and geographical variations. Sampling of soft scale pests involves sighting the insects or their damage, and assessing their abundance. Crawlers of most univoltine species emerge in the spring and the summer. Degree-day models and plant phenological indicators help determine the initiation of sampling and treatment against crawlers (the life stage most vulnerable to contact insecticides). The efficacy of cultural management tactics, such as fertilization, pruning, and irrigation, in reducing soft scale abundance is poorly documented. A large number of parasitoids and predators attack soft scale populations in the field; therefore, natural enemy conservation by using selective insecticides is important. Systemic insecticides provide greater flexibility in application method and timing, and have longer residual longevity than contact insecticides. Application timing of contact insecticides that coincides with crawler emergence is most effective in reducing soft scale abundance.