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What is Crape Myrtle Bark Scale?

There is a new pest in our area, and it unfortunately has the potential to be very destructive.  Crape Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS) first showed up in Texas in 2004.  Since then, it has slowly spread throughout the southeastern states.  The first official sightings in Mississippi were along the coast in the spring of this year. Since then, it has been diagnosed in north Mississippi, including Oxford, New Albany, and Olive Branch. We have already treated CMBS at a few locations in Oxford.

Here’s what to look for on your crape myrtles:

LEAVES -- Crape myrtle bark scale appear as white or gray encrusted waxy spots around pruning cuts and in the crotches of branches. Underneath the waxy coating, the scale appear to be pink. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)

LEAVES — Crape myrtle bark scale appear as white or gray encrusted waxy spots around pruning cuts and in the crotches of branches. Underneath the waxy coating, the scale appear to be pink. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)

  • Heavy accumulations of black sooty mold on the trunk
  • Patches of white felt-like material on the trunk and branches, especially near cracks or pruning scars
  • Use a small knife to puncture the white covering on the scale and the insects will bleed pink or red

*Sooty mold will also be present if you have aphids on your crape myrtles, but the other symptoms                  are not present with aphids.

The concern with CMBS is that it is difficult to control, and once it infests a crape myrtle the tree becomes very unsightly and can die.  Aggressive treatment of infested trees is the current recommendation of our state entomologist and extension service.  Everyone that has crape myrtles should consider a soil injection of a systemic insecticide each spring.  A systemic insecticide injection does show the possibility of preventing a CMBS infestation.

Give us a call if you would like to make a preventative treatment for CMBS, or if you have concerns about crape myrtles in your landscape.

 

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