The scale infestation continues. It is in fact looking like what people say is true: once you have scale, you always have scale. It's never very many insects, they're never on very many plants, I can occasionally even remove an infestation from an area entirely by repeated spraying with rubbing alcohol.1 But it always seems to move somewhere else, and always seems to return to the plants I removed it from. Between the scale and the sunburn and rot caused by putting plants outside before they were ready, I'm on the verge of throwing out all my Agaves, Furcraeas, Manfredas, and Mangaves and being rid of those genera forever, the same way I abandoned Hedera and Codiaeum to the spider mites years ago. I mean, look what happened to my Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' after two days outside:
I did salvage an unrotted offset from it, and I had a previous offset (taken over a year ago, when I'd thought the scale might lead me to throw the plant out), but that's small consolation for losing a specimen as large and pretty as it was. Especially since the offsets will likely die or get thrown out before reaching that size themselves.
But we're not here to mourn the Agave; we're here to marvel at the recuperative powers of my NOID fern.2
I discovered scale on several of the fronds around the beginning of March, maybe the end of February. I started cutting off any fronds that had obvious scale, and any fronds that were close enough to have had honeydew dripped on them. As I progressed, I realized that 1) this would result in me cutting off most of the fronds, and 2) any fronds that I left would probably have enough undetectable scale on them to launch a new round of infestation, so I'd have hacked my fern to bits but accomplished nothing. So, I cut all the fronds off down to the rhizomes. Maybe the plant would come back, maybe it wouldn't, but at least the scale would be gone.3
I'm not certain about the date, but my best guess is that I cut the fronds off on 28 February. By 18 March, new ones were coming up all over:
And by yesterday morning (26 April), it was back to what it had looked like before, pretty much:
That's an incredibly fast comeback.
I don't know yet whether this had the intended effect of getting rid of all the scale. I haven't seen any yet, but then I've also been too busy and too scared to look for it. I'm impressed with the plant's recovery either way, though.
2 It was a hitch-hiker in a Rhipsalis I bought years ago. Took it out, nursed it along, and it is now much, much larger than the Rhipsalis ever dreamed of getting. Because the fern wasn't supposed to be in the pot, though, there was no ID for it. My best guess is that it's a Phlebodium of some kind, possibly P. aureum. When I expressed this opinion in a previous post, someone popped up to tell me that it was cleeeeearly a Hawaiian wart fern (Microsorum scolopendria or Phymatosorus grossus) and not a Phlebodium at all. Based on the lack of scent (M. scolopendria fronds are supposed to smell like vanilla.) and the less-orderly arrangement of its spores, I'm pretty certain it's not that particular Microsorum (or Phymatosorus). Though I don't rule out that it could be a Microsorum (or Phymatosorus).
3 In theory. I was assuming that the scale wouldn't be able to survive on the hairy rhizomes long enough for the plant to grow new fronds. This may or may not be a good assumption.