Crape Myrtle Bark Scale 

Along with the term “Crape Murder” we refer to Crape Myrtle Bark Scale quite often at Lawn and Pest Solutions. While advising our customers on how to trim their trees without killing them, we also try to prevent disease. 

When looking at photos of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, it is hard to tell exactly what you are seeing. 

Is it a plant, a growth, or a bug? 

What is Crape Myrtle Bark Scale? It is actually a type of insect/pest that attaches itself to the trunk of a Crape Myrtle tree. Before you spot this pest, it is highly likely that the first thing you notice will be black areas forming on the trunk or branches of your tree. This pest covers parts (or eventually ALL) of the Crape Myrtle tree with a black, sticky soot-like substance. 

The actual pest (the Bark Scale) is flat, light gray or white and it feels like felt. If you press on Bark Scale and it oozes a pink substance, it is active.

Where did it come from?

According to Clemson University, Crape Myrtle Bark Scale was first found in Texas in 2004. By 2022, it has spread across the South as far as North Carolina. Most attribute the spread to the movement of plant material across the region.

How to look for signs of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale 

You will first notice that sidewalks, driveways, shrubs and flowers, garbage cans, swimming pools, even toys under your trees are turning black. Everything under an infected tree will get a black, moldy, sooty stain. 

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale:

Typically gathers in the branch crotches or at pruning areas

Sometimes found under loose bark

 As it takes over, it begins to literally suck the life (sap) from your tree

Thick, black moldy soot will cover the tree and rain down onto everything underneath it

Is this a battle worth fighting?

For some, it’s about aesthetics. The black sooty mold coveringyour trees and everything underneath is more cause for concern than the health of the tree. This may come down to deciding to protect the investment you have made in your trees, your landscape, and your property.

It is commonly accepted that CMBS won’t kill your trees. However, the black mold does prevent sunlight from reaching the tree. This will obviously have some affect on the health of the tree.

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale will most likely affect the number of flowers on an infected tree. The size of flower clusters and overall vigor in the plant health of your Crape Myrtle trees may also suffer. It may even cause your trees to flower later than healthy trees. 

Treatment of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale

1. We start by systemically injecting treatment at the roots of the trees. This slowly and methodically begins treating the entire tree and ridding it of the pest. 

2. Additionally, we spray the entire tree with a growth regulator. Contrary to the name, this doesn’t improve the growth of the tree, it speeds up the process of getting rid of the Bark Scale. 

3. In the fall, our techs apply dormant oil to the affected tree. This oil smothers and eliminates any remaining insects on the tree except those which are beneficial to the tree (like ladybugs). 

4. Each year afterwards, we do an annual systemic treatment as a preventative to keep the CMBS from returning. This treatment also has lawn fertilization  which will help your Crape Myrtle thrive in the future. 

Even if you don’t have Bark Scale now you might consider this preventative treatment. 

Crape Myrtles are some of the most beautiful flowering trees we have in the South. These majestic trees enhance our properties, parks, cities, and lawns. Contact us today to check on your investment! Lawn and Pest Solutions has a great system to treat your Crape Myrtles before this Crape Myrtle Bark Scale has a chance to infect your trees. Our licensed technicians are trained in recognizing and guiding you in the right direction for treatment and/or prevention. We treat Crape Myrtles at homes, schools and businesses in the Memphis, Tennessee area and all over North Mississippi.

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