Crape Myrtle Bark Scale: North Mississippi Seeing Increased Infestation

Crape myrtles are one of the most common trees you’ll see throughout the South. Not only are their flowers beautiful and long-lasting, but the tree itself is extremely tough and impervious to most insects and pathogens.

Today, crape myrtles are suffering from a new threat: crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS).

CMBS is a strain of pest that sucks sap from the tree and secretes a dark mold onto its surface. The bugs themselves are a light gray to white color with a felt-like texture. They’re rather inactive—they simply cling to the tree, seeking to lay eggs and suck sap. But unchecked, they do that really, really well. CMBS can spawn two or three generations each season.

Trees will often have a distinct black appearance when infested.

The mold is another matter. While the mold doesn’t attack the tree, it blocks the tree from receiving sunlight and can be extremely difficult to remove. CMBS inflicts significant damage to the tree and can greatly compromise its aesthetics, and left untreated can kill a crape myrtle.

CMBS has been identified within our service areas in Lafayette, Lee, DeSoto, and Tate Union counties.

If CMBS is identified on your crape myrtles, aggressive treatment is the best course of action.  We recommend a regimen of three different treatments to ensure optimal control.  Even if you don’t live in these areas, it’s a good idea to have a preventative treatment applied to your crape myrtles. CMBS is most noticeable in the late summer and fall, but becomes active in the spring.  A preventative treatment needs to be applied each spring to prevent future infestation.

CMBS can be tricky to identify, since aphids can leave a similarly-colored mold. It’s best to call a professional rather than applying the wrong treatment, which can cause additional problems. Our certified technicians will not only inspect your crape myrtles and advise you on how to control CMBS, they’ll also apply an insect growth regulator that allows lady beetles to continue feeding on the CMBS.

Crape myrtles are an important part of our landscape—many yards in Oxford, Tupelo, Hernando and New Albany feature these beautiful trees. Give us a call today at (888) 534-4535 or reach out through our contact page to set up your assessment with a certified Lawn & Pest Solutions technician.

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