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Randy ForstExtension Educator - Consumer Horticulture
Phone: (501) 671-2245Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the initial sighting in 2004, the crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS) insect has been
spreading at an alarming rate across the Southeast. The insect was first noted in
McKinney, Texas (self-designated as America’s “crapemyrtle city”), in 2005 and had
spread throughout most of the Dallas-Fort Worth area by 2010. The scale was reported
in Ardmore, Okla., and Shreveport, La., in 2012 and Houma, La. (60 miles southwest
of New Orleans) in 2013.
If left undetected or untreated, the CMBS will spread rapidly. A heavy infestation
will result in white crusted clusters of insects which may blanket small stems and
be quite visible on the trunks. If you get up close or use a magnifying glass, you
will see that the adult is white to gray in color and there may be dozens of pink
eggs or crawlers under some of the larger white scale covers. It is suspected that
there may be at least two generations in Arkansas.
Most gardeners will be alerted to CMBS by black sooty mold which appears on the bark
. The presence of sooty mold may confuse the diagnosis since that is also commonly
associated with a significant aphid problem. This sooty mold grows on a by-product
of sucking insects including scale and aphids. As these insects feed, they give off
a sweet substance called honeydew. Wherever this honeydew lands, the stems, leaves
and trunk get very sticky and then a black sooty mold will form. If that sooty mold
is accompanied with white specks on the trunks or branches, that is the crape myrtle
bark scale, and is cause for action.
Send our experts a photo and ask for their advice.
No need to remove your trees if you suspect infestation. However, treatment is necessary.
The scale will NOT kill your trees but they reduce the amount and size of the blooms
and the sooty mold makes them less attractive.
Systemic insecticides work very well to control the bark scale, but the timing is
most effective when applied in late winter/early spring.
If you have small limbs which are heavily infested prune them off and dispose of them.
Do not put them in a compost pile, or put them out on the curb for yard-waste pick-up. In a perfect world, burning the debris would be the best way to eradicate the pest,
but unfortunately we can’t burn refuse in the city.
Left exposed in an open truck or put on the curb for yard waste pickup leads to a
possibility that the millions of tiny crawlers could be easily spread to neighboring
properties, thus accelerating the spread of this invasive insect. Instead, double bag the cuttings and put them in your regular trash pickup
Be aware, once the insects die, they will still be on the plant, but no longer causing
damage and not spreading. There is no need to do preventative treatment, so only treat a tree that has the insect
problem—but do monitor all the crape myrtles in your yard. The sooner you can catch the problem,
the easier and quicker the problem can be solved.
Is your county included in infestations? Look at this map to find your county and please take a picture of the tree with symptoms and/or a sample in to your local county extension office.