Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, it’s still here!

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS) is still a “thing” here in North Mississippi and the surrounding areas. Just because we aren’t currently talking about “Crape Murder” (also still a “thing”) doesn’t mean this especially ugly and pretty gross scale insect isn’t making its’ presence known around here.

First of all, what is a “scale insect”?

Oh, you didn’t know either? Well, I googled that for us. If you just want a one click answer, here it is. The easy explanation is that they are insects that suck on a plant, they have a waxy and protective outer coating. They don’t have wings, so they can’t move and their outer coating eventually turns to a matted felt like texture. They secrete a fluid (called honeydew) that is sticky and attracts other insects like pests. The CMBS is tiny and about the length of the thickness of a dime. Once it lays eggs on your Crape Myrtle, it dies. 

So what’s the harm?

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale isn’t as harmful as some of the other things that might be lurking in your lawn, that’s the good news. But let’s be honest, the reason we all love a Crape Myrtle is that it is a beautiful tree. It is pretty tough, it grows back even when you try to murder it and it just exudes Southern charm. So, we don’t want our lovely Crape Myrtle to be covered in this gross, sticky, layer of life sucking scale insects, right? Not only does CMBS make the trunk and limbs of your tree look and feel yucky, it also tends to exude a black or gray sooty mold. This mold makes your tree dark and it also falls over everything under your tree. You may have noticed the black mold that appears on driveways, sidewalks, garbage cans, children’s toys, etc. 

Sooty mold isn’t the only problem.

Again, we planted this Crape Myrtle for the beautiful flowers…right? When the trunk and limbs are covered in scale insects that are slowing sucking life from the tree, guess what happens? It is going to affect not only the quantity of your flowers and blooms, but also the quality. It won’t kill your tree, but your tree won’t be living its’ best life covered in this pest. This expert from Oklahoma gives us a great up close view of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale and discusses ways a homeowner can treat it. Oh, and one last really gross issue with CMBS, when you crush it, a pink blood-like liquid is exuded. I couldn’t let that go without being said.

What can be done?

One of the zillion cool things about nature, is that sometimes, nature can try and take care of itself. In this instance, it’s the lady beetle . If you are so lucky to be visited by her, she can attack and eat up lots of Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. Before the Lady Beetles pupate, they can clean up a lot of problems, so if you see these friends, leave them alone! Let them do their job. Here’s a cool and short video of a lady beetle feasting on Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. 

If you like to think of yourself as a “Do it yourselfer” 

As mentioned above, you can wash off the trunks and limbs that you can reach. You can also cover the tree in dormant oil for the winter to kill off any remaining scale. You don’t have to commit “crape murder” and you don’t have to cut down your trees. If you decide to do just that, please be careful in the removal of the cuttings, as this can easily spread to other healthy trees and lawns if not handled properly. 

We can help you.

Climbing ladders and scrubbing your trees may not be in your fall plans, but saving your trees and lawns, it’s what we do.If you have determined that you have a tree or trees that are infested with Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, give us a call. These scale insects are laying eggs now, and now is as good a time as any to handle this problem. If you want the pros to help you, click here to leave a message with our office. If you call during regular office hours, we always answer the phone. If you want to get in touch with us after hours, leave a message on our easy to use Podium link (the photo of the girl in the bottom right corner) and you will be not be missed.

What is Crape Myrtle Bark Scale?

Sorry, but I had to do it, I had to Google “what is Crape Myrtle Bark Xcale”. It’s a long , um…word? Musical term? Disease? Bug? Pest? Flower? Part of a tree? From it’s name (pre-Google of course) it sounds like it could be any of those things. Post Googling, wow. It took a few minutes of looking at images to understand what I was seeing before digging deeper. 

Come on 2020, enough of this.

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale is a type of insect/pest that attaches itself to the trunk of a Crape Myrtle tree. The Bark Scale starts to suck the sap (and life) from your tree. As it lives there, it puts a thick, moldy layer on the tree trunk.  If you have aphids on your trees, this black moldy covering starts pouring black soot down upon everything underneath. Sidewalks, driveways, shrubs and flowers underneath the tree, garbage cans, pools, toys, whatever is under the infected tree will get a black, moldy, sooty stain. Not only that, the mold prevents sunlight from reaching the tree. Sunlight being blocked from a tree is not a good thing, we can agree. 

Did I mention this is an insect? 

The Crape Myrtle Bark Scale is not the loveliest of all creations, it is flat and resembles a scale of some sort. It is light gray in color and feels like felt. It may take a few looks to realize that this is an insect, not a weird growth on your tree. When trained technicians check your Crape Myrtle to see if you have this problem, they can cut or press one of the insects to test. 

Brace yourself.

The Crape Myrtle Bark Scale insect, when cut, poked, or pressed…bleeds pink (or red, but pink?) Thank you, Google. Perhaps I was better off thinking this was a musical term. Moving along, this relatively new pest has been spreading its’ way across the South, starting in Texas in 2004. Crape Myrtle Bark Scale has reached North Mississippi and is now being treated by licensed lawn and pest technicians like Lawn and Pest Solutions in New Albany, MS. 

Systemic is a word we use a lot, what does it mean?

In medicine, systemic means affecting the whole body, it is in contrast with topical or local. Our Lawn and Pest Solutions attack on CMBS is a systemic treatment started by injecting treatment at the roots of your Crape Myrtles. This will slowly and methodically begin treating the entire tree and ridding it of the pest.

But what about NOW?

The second step of treatment attacks the Crape Myrtle Bark Scale directly, it has more immediate results, removing the felt like covering on your trunks.  At the end of the season, an oil is applied to the whole tree to prevent the return of the Bark Scale. Our pros recommend that after this three step program, we return to freshen up your systemic treatment and prevent this from happening again. Even if you don’t have Bark Scale now you might consider this preventative treatment. 

Lawn and Pest Solutions has a great system of treatment for your Crape Myrtles. Before this Crape Myrtle Bark Scale has a chance to infect your trees, call us. Our licensed technicians can come by and see if you have already “been exposed” or not, and guide you in the right direction for treatment and/or prevention. Crape Myrtles are some of the most beautiful flowering trees we have in the the South, they enhance our properties, parks, cities and lawns. Contact us today to check on your investment!