NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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The peony scale, Pseudaonidia paeoniae, is a small, purple, circular or oval (about 3/32 inch in diameter), convex insect completely covered by a grayish-brown armor. This scale has a burrowing habit that at times becomes almost completely hidden by the bark. One of the more obvious signs of the peony scale is the lower portion of the armor which adheres to the stems of infested plants long after the upper armor and body of the insect has fallen away. The lower portion of the armor is circular and white (1/8 inch in diameter) whereas the upper armor of the live scale blends in almost completely with the bark. Females lay their eggs inside the armor, and newly hatched nymphs (crawlers) are tiny, flat, and purple. Crawlers usually emerge from under their dead mother's armor in May.

Peony scale insects

Peony scale insects are tiny and purple.

armor of peony scale insect

The armor of peony scale insects blends in with the bark of its host plant.

Host Plants

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In North Carolina, the principal host plants of peony scale are azalea and camellia. It also infests dogwood, holly and rhododendron. Peony scale can be quite damaging to its host plants. Infested plants are often stunted and have noticeable dieback.

Plants infested with peony scales

Plants infested with peony scales become unthrifty and may die back. Notice the white scars on the stem.

Residential Recommendations

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Because the peony scale is an armored scale, one of the best chemical treatments for control is to spray an emulsion of 2% horticultural oil and 98% water. This should be repeated in about two weeks.

Other Resources

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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension center.

This factsheet has not been peer reviewed.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology & Plant Pathology

Publication date: Feb. 13, 2019
Revised: Jan. 9, 2019

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