Crape Myrtle Bark Scale Continues to Affect Local Trees

— Written By Katy Shook
en Español / em Português

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Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, white dots highlighted with arrows on a crape myrtle.First observed locally in 2019, crape myrtle bark scale is an insect that affects crape myrtle trees. It is often noticed because of the black sooty mold that covers infected trees. However, the problem begins with the insect. CMBS are very small, resembling grains of rice; they are frequently found attached to the bark and sometimes leaves of trees. As they feed, the insects produce a sticky waste-product that covers the tree, and eventually turns the tree black. In addition to being unsightly, the sooty mold can reduce the health and performance of infected trees. To remove the sooty mold, and improve the health of trees, homeowners must first control the insect. Below is an integrated pest management approach for home landscapes:

  • Prevention. Avoid infestation by creating a diverse landscape. Use a variety of plants, including native alternatives. For suggestions, visit <>.
  • Cultural control. Keep plants healthy. Avoid heavy pruning, and water during times of drought. Insects are often attracted to stressed plants.
  • Mechanical/Physical control. Insects can be removed by scrubbing with a brush and soapy water. Although difficult, it is a great organic option.
  • Biological control. Scout infected trees. Become familiar with ladybugs, a natural predator, and their life cycles (hint: infant ladybugs do not look like adult ladybugs!). Keep in mind that controls may also harm natural predators.
  • Chemical control. Horticulture oils can be applied year round; follow all label directions. Systemic products can be drenched around infected trees, but because these products may also harm pollinators, take extra precaution by avoiding application near bloom, and by following all label directions.