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Woolly vine or currant scale has a wide range of woody hosts including grape vine, peach, nectarine, currants, gooseberry, pyracantha and mountain ash. Honeydew and sooty mould occur on heavily affected plants.
Woolly vine scale (Pulvinaria vitis) with egg masses
There are many types of scale insects encountered by gardeners, they are sap sucking true bugs. Like other scale insects the adult woolly vine or currant scale are covered in a waxy ‘scale’ covering.
Adult females of this species mature in September or October, they are 5-7mm long dark brown and convex, immobile and attached to host plants stems. The adult male is winged and pinkish, at only 1.5 mm long it is rarely seen. Males die after mating but the females overwinter and produce white waxy egg masses in May or June. The egg masses are usually only found on stems and the wax can be pulled out in long threads; these characteristics distinguish this species from other insects that produce white waxy coverings such as cushion scale, fluted scale, horse chestnut scale, woolly aphid and mealybug.
The eggs hatch in June-early July initially the nymphs (crawlers) are mobile before eventually settling down on one year old wood to complete their development.
Heavy infestations of woolly vine or currant scale can leave heavy deposits of sticky honeydew upon which a black non-parasitic fungus sooty mould often grows. Heavy infestations may also result in a lack of vigour in affected plants.
The 5-7mm dark brown insects will be evident upon examination on stems and in spring white waxy egg masses will be evident.
Woolly vine or currant scale is difficult to eradicate. Whilst scraping the insects and egg masses off the stems can help reduce infestations this is unlikely to give good control. It can be worth considering replacing heavily infested plants.
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