[Skip to Content]
University of Illinois Extension

Pine Needle Scale


Pine needle scale (Phenacaspis pinifoliae) attacks mugo, Scots, Austrian and red pines. Landscape trees, Christmas trees and trees along dusty roads are the most seriously affected trees.

Description, Life Cycle and Symptoms

As the number of insects increase the tree often looks like it has been "flocked" in the summer. In addition the amount of damage increases. Left alone, the insects will kill the tree. Pine needle scale over-winters as reddish eggs under the dead female body cover. Eggs hatch during candle growth. The crawlers move onto the new needles on the same tree or they may be carried or blown onto another tree. In the midwest, one life cycle occurs per year. In other parts of the country, two life cycles may occur in one growing season.


Correct timing of insecticidal sprays can eliminate this insect. Check with your local land grant university (Cooperative) Extension Service for recommended insecticide.


Written by James Schuster, retired Extension Educator, Horticulture & Plant Pathology, and reviewed by Dr.Philip L. Nixon, Extension Specialist-Entomology, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Filed under plants: Evergreen Trees & Shrubs

Filed under problems: Insects Damage

More information is available on Hort Answers.