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The 6 Most Common Insects In New England

The 6 Most Common Insects In New England

The insect family is a big and varied one. In fact, globally, insects are among the most diverse creatures. Insects have existed for over 400 million years, and they’ve adapted to almost every environment on earth. They are found in deserts, wetlands, oceans, and even the Arctic!

Insects adapt to different environments. While some can survive in hot areas, others cannot and will only survive in cold temperatures. And that’s why some insects are common in certain areas and not others. There’s a variety of insects worldwide, but today we will focus on one area: New England. Let’s look at the six common insects you’re likely to find there.

Elongate Hemlock Scale

MOST COMMON INSECTS 1 - Elongate Hemlock Scale

The elongate hemlock scale is one of the common insects on Eastern and Carolina hemlock trees. White, red, Douglas fir, and spruce are the other conifer species these pests attack. The Elongate Hemlock Scale is usually found on the stems, branches, and twigs but may also occur on the needles.

Identification of Elongate Hemlock Scale

Elongate hemlock scales are about 1/8 inch long. They are brown with a light stripe down the back. A white, waxy stripe may also be present on each side of the body.

Life cycle of elongate hemlock scale

Most adults are female and immobile. Males are rare and gnatlike. Eggs hatch in spring, and crawlers settle on the needles to feed. Every year, there is a new generation. By the middle of July, crawlers have transformed into larvae. These nymphs spend the winter behind their protective covers, molting into adults in June the following year. Crawlers can move short distances after hatching, but the nymphs do not move again after settling on the needles.

Damage And Control of elongate hemlock scale

Scales injure hemlocks by sucking sap from needles, twigs, branches, or trunks. Heavy infestations may cause branch dieback, stunting, or even mortality of trees under prolonged stress or other unfavorable conditions such as drought or transplanting shock.

Hemlock Adelgid

MOST COMMON INSECTS 2 - Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, also known as the hemlock aphid, is a tiny insect that was accidentally introduced to New England from Japan in 1924. It has since become a common pest throughout New England, and it poses a significant threat to native hemlocks.


This tiny insect is commonly mistaken for a mite or tick, but it is an adelgid. Adult adelgids are wingless and 1-2 mm long. They have long antennae, six legs, and a dark, oval-shaped body. They are only active for about one month during the spring, but they reproduce incredibly quickly during this time because each female can lay up to 200 eggs. These eggs are wrapped in fluffy white wax (which makes them “woolly”), giving the branches a fuzzy appearance that is easy to spot from a long distance.


The eggs hatch within two weeks of being laid, and the young nymphs (also called crawlers) begin feeding on the sap of the hemlock tree until they mature into adults. The insects then suck even more sap out of the hemlock as they lay more eggs and die off before winter. 


Damage from this insect can be devastating to hemlock trees as it sucks sap from needles, causing premature needle drop, branch dieback, thinning crowns, and eventual death of trees if left untreated for long periods.

camellia scale


Camellia or Taxus Scale are other common pests in New England. These insects are small, hard-bodied scales that like to feed on the sap found in plants. They can be seen crawling on the stems, twigs, and leaves of various trees and shrubs, including Camellias and Taxus.


Both female and male scales go through five nymphal stages before becoming adults. Eggs hatch into crawlers that move around until they find a place to settle down. They then become immobile, developing a protective cover over their heads as they mature. Once mature, Taxus scales will begin reproducing, and that’s when you’ll start seeing large colonies forming on plants. There is one generation per year for this species of scale.


If you notice wilting or yellowing leaves on your plants, this could indicate that insects are feeding on them. Take some time to inspect the leaves more closely, and you may see the white wax covering of the camellia scale. This insect feeds on various plant hosts but prefers evergreens like holly, yews, junipers, and boxwood. They can be found throughout the state but are most commonly seen in southern New England.

Boxwood Leaf Miner

MOST COMMON INSECTS 4 - Boxwood Leaf Miner

The boxwood leafminer is one of the newest pests and most common insects in New England. The pests have become a significant pest of boxwood plants in the state. 


The boxwood leafminer is a small black fly that lays its eggs inside the leaves of boxwood plants. After hatching, the larvae feed on the soft layer between the leaves’ upper and lower surfaces, which causes brown blotches to appear on their surface.

The adult flies emerge from the leaves as early as mid-May, then lay their eggs on new young leaves. The larvae then hatch and begin to feed for about four weeks before burrowing into the soil to pupate. In late summer, adults emerge and continue feeding through fall before entering leaf litter or soil to overwinter.


Once the eggs are laid, larvae hatch and feed on the leaves, creating winding mine patterns between the upper and lower epidermis as they eat. When they are ready to pupate, larvae leave the leaves and drop to the ground, burrowing into the soil to complete their development.

They overwinter in a cocoon-like structure in the ground until spring, when they emerge as adults. After mating, a female seeks out host plants and lays eggs on them. Most adult moths live for less than a week after emergence.


Brown blotches on leaves are the most typical symptom of an infestation, which becomes more widespread as the infestation continues. This damage will not kill the plant, but it can look unsightly if left untreated for several years.

Spraying insecticides at the right periods throughout the pest’s lifespan is the most effective strategy to manage the infestation. Best controlled with a systemic treatment because there is a short window of time to spray the adult flies.

Magnolia Scale

MOST COMMON INSECTS 5 - Magnolia Scale

Magnolia scale is a serious pest of magnolias and tuliptree. The insect is known to attack linden, basswood, dogwood, and hickory. This insect does not grow wings during its lifetime so that the large white masses can identify it on tree branches. The white masses consist of waxy secretion that protects the insects. These waxy masses can be up to an inch long and occur on twigs and branches.

Life Cycle OF Magnolia Scale

The magnolia scale has a life cycle quite similar to the oyster shell scale. Adult females lay eggs under their bodies in late summer and early fall. The eggs hatch in the spring into tiny crawlers that crawl around until they find a place to feed. Magnolia scale produces only one generation per year. Females mature by mid-summer when they begin laying eggs for another generation.

Damage And Control OF Magnolia Scale

These are one of the common insects that attack older trees primarily and cause minor damage to young trees. Infested trees become weakened from severe sap loss and are susceptible to other pests or diseases that may enter through damaged bark or twigs.

Control measures include applying a dormant spray of horticultural oil in early spring before new growth starts to smother the eggs and newly hatched nymphs. A summer spray of an appropriate insecticide will help to reduce the number of crawlers that appear in late summer. We also recommend a systemic treatment because this is a very difficult insect to control. It usually requires three treatments a year for a few years to control the insect population.  Infested trees should receive supplemental fertilization and watering during dry periods.

Lace Bug


Lace bugs are a common nuisance for homeowners in New England. They target plants of all sizes, both indoors and outdoors. They feed on plants by sucking out their juices through their mouthparts located on their lower abdomen.


Lace bugs have a lacy appearance, hence the name lace bug. They are tiny in size, measuring about an inch long. They are flat and have wings that are fringed around the edges. The adults are dark brown or black with a light-colored pattern on their backs. The nymphs are wingless and light gray or white colored with red eyes.

Life Cycle OF Lace Bugs

The female lace bug lays eggs in fall on leaves, stems, and twigs of plants. The eggs hatch into nymphs in spring when temperatures reach between 70°F and 80°F degrees. Before reaching adulthood in the summer, the larvae go through five larval stages. After mating, females lay their eggs again in the fall for another generation to begin production again the following year.

Damage And Control OF LACE BUGS

When lace bugs feed on plants, they suck out juices, causing yellow spots to appear on leaves, similar to stippling. If left untreated, severe infestations can cause defoliation of leaves. Lace bugs usually do not kill plants but can be fatal to young plants if left untreated for a long time. Treat lace bug with one or two spray treatments a year depending on how bad the damage is.   When their populations are high in the summer they can turn a healthy green plant into a chlorotic anemic plant in a month.

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