Applying Dormant Oil

Late in the summer, scale bugs, mites and aphids lay their eggs on a variety of fruit trees, camellias, hollies, citrus, palms and other ornamental shrubs.  The continual drain of sap from these sucking insects can ultimately kill these plants.


Aphids on a shrub


Bark Scale on a fruit tree


LUCKILY, you can add a layer of protection by applying dormant oil NOW! One application of dormant oil will help control insect populations – it coats the insects’ spiracles (or the pores on its body that the bug breathes through) effectively smothering the future larvae. The BEST part? Dormant oil is less toxic to beneficial insects, like ladybugs, birds and other mammals.


When to Apply Dormant Oil:

To determine when to use dormant oil, take the weather in East Texas into consideration. The date may change every year, but the conditions must be the same. Spray early enough so that the buds on the trees haven’t started to pop out — wait until the daily temperature is at least 40 degrees F. and will stay that way for at least 24 hours. Then, choose a 24-hour period when no rain or high winds are predicted.



How to Apply Dormant Oil:


– Cover any annual flowers you may have near the tree when using dormant oil.


Fill your sprayer with the oil solution and slowly cover the tree, beginning with the topmost branches.


Move all around the tree to get the spray into all the crevices.


After a few weeks, evidence of a scale infestation will still be visible after the spraying.  The “sooty mold” dark color on the leaves and bark has to wear off over time.  The dead bodies of the scale will stick in place and will also disappear over time.


Check to see if spraying has killed most of the scale present.  With a thumbnail pry off a scale and press it.  If the shell is dried, then the scale is dead and the treatment worked. YAY!  If the scale is squishy and is filled with yellow, orange or white liquid then the scales are still living and need to be sprayed again.

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