Crape myrtles are beautiful trees that showcase their beauty in candy colors every summer. Unfortunately, the trees that brighten our hottest months are under attack by a foreign invader. Have you seen a strange white cottony growth on the trunks of beautiful crape myrtles? If you look closely, you’ll notice that it is alive! Meet the crape myrtle scale. It destroys the bark of crape myrtles causing a lot of damage in a small amount of time. It’s also accompanied by heavy layer of black sooty mold on the branches. Crape myrtle Bark Scale is a small insect that appears as a white or gray felt-like encrustation. They may be found anywhere on crape myrtles, and often appear near pruning sites and branch crotches of more mature wood.
Generally, the first sign of crape myrtle bark scale is the black sooty mold on the tree bark. The scale excretes honeydew that coats leaves and limbs, resulting in a sticky coating from the excess sugars excreted from the insects’ feeding. Sooty mold grows on the honeydew. This results in a black coating that appears on the bark of the branches and trunks of crape myrtles. Additionally, white cases are visible, and they enclose the adult female scales. The tiny pest was first identified in the Dallas area about 10 years ago and is believed to have entered the country from Asia. Since then, it’s been slowly making its way across the South, arriving in Shreveport-Bossier City about four years ago. Infestations have also been verified in Houma, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia.
It was reported that out of the 430 Crape Myrtle trees on the campus of Louisiana State University in Shreveport, 60 percent of these iconic trees are affected by the Bark Scale. Scales can be found on various parts of the tree as oval, white, crusted clusters of insects with a powdery waxy appearance. The insects don’t seem to be fatal to trees, but they are unsightly and weaken trees so they aren’t likely to bloom profusely. The bark scale has been known to stress the tree and make it less healthy. The scale gives these beautiful trees a burnt appearance which makes them look unsightly and weak.
The below article would explain the situation better.
Invasive crape myrtle pest found in South Carolina
September 26, 2019
Posted by Julianne Mobilian
Crape myrtle bark scale, an invasive pest from Asia, was discovered in South Carolina, according to a media release from The Newsstand. Per its name, the Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae insect infests the crape myrtle plant. It was first discovered in Texas in 2004 and has spread to other states, but this is the first time it was sighted in South Carolina.
The parasite feeds on plant sap and leaves a residue behind, which can damage the crape myrtle trees, especially stems and trunks. According to the media release, the crape myrtle bark scale was found in parts of metro Columbia.
“It’s been there a while as the infestation is quite expansive,” said media release source Steven Long. “An investigation to determine the source of the infestation is under way.”
Crape myrtle is one of the few trees that bear colorful flower displays through much of the summer, come in a variety of stunning colors, is easy to grow, and until now has been relatively pest free. Unfortunately, the pest-free reputation is changing with the advent of the bark scale. With their extremely high reproduction potential, there could be at least two generations of the bark scale in one year. This can be a difficult pest to control and it may take multiple years of treatment. So, how do we fight this pest? Keep reading!
C Tech Corporation provides a unique non-toxic product called Termirepel™ which is an environmentally safe insect repellent. It can repel more than 500 species of insects on account of it being a broad spectrum anti-insect repellent. The most striking feature of Termirepel™ is that it neither kills the target species, nor the non-target species. It will simply keep the insects away from the application. Termirepel™ in lacquer form can be coated on the trunks of our beloved crape myrtles, which would effectively keep the bark scale from infesting and causing the trees any damage!
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