Winter is a great time to get to know plant bugs.
Regardless of how careful I am, something inevitably hitchhikes on my deck plants wintering over inside my house. Of all bugs, scale is the most fascinating. They start out as soft, almost white flat oval spots, then turn into a brown shell. You'll find scale under leaves and at leaf joints. You can also tell if you have scale if you find honeydew, or a sticky coating, on the floor around your plant. Scale thrives in warm, dry environments, which means winter inside is perfect for them. I regularly check plants and, at the first sign of scale, I remove them with Q-tips dipped in alcohol. It's also a good idea to separate plants with scale from the rest to make sure they don't spread. I can imagine these bugs being huge in dinosaur days, can't you?