We Get Questions from Michigan

Hi Cactus jungle,

A friend sent me a spineless prickly pear pad from Texas. I planted it and place it outside in a sunny southern exposure in Michigan. It sprouted 2 more paddles right away.

I was wondering. Can this plant get scales? I asked because in the process of wiping the dust off the paddles I noticed that the surfaces look like they were covered with scales. I took a damp cloth and removed as much as I could…most of them wiped right off. If it is scale, is simply wiping the plant down the best way to treat it?

Thank you for any and all insight. A neophyte cactus person

Generally in Michigan the larger prickly pear (Opuntia) plants will want to be inside in winter. If you keep them completely dry they can sometimes survive outside.
Opuntia are definitely prone to scale, however if they are rubbing off with a damp cloth they are probably not scale, since scale insects bite down and hold on tight. Generally we recommend dipping a soft paintbrush in alcohol to break through their hard outer shell and gently rub them off.
[Ed. Note: I don’t know that I actually answered the question. Could I have done better?]

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