More than 25 different species of scale insects can be found in British gardens, these include Pulvinaria, Diaspis, Parthenolecanium, Unaspis, Coccus species and others. They suck sap from the leaves and stems of their host plants. They are mostly 1-6mm (less than ¼in) long, although wisteria scale, Eulecanium excrescens, can be up to 10mm (about ½in), and vary in shape and colour.
All species have a shell-like waxy covering over their bodies when mature. The eggs are often laid under the protection of this shell but with the cushion scales (eg Pulvinaria species) the eggs are deposited outside the scale under a mass of white waxy fibres.
The adults are sedentary but newly-hatched nymphs crawl actively over the plant surface and spread the infestation.
Scale insects in greenhouses can breed continuously throughout the year but those species that infest outdoor plants mostly have one generation a year.