crape myrtle scale
Wed, Jun 09, 2021

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale: Everything You Need to Know to Heal a Tree from Pests

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Crape Myrtle Bark Scale: Everything You Need to Know to Heal a Tree from Pests Article Preview
crape myrtle bark scale

Crapemertal is an incredibly beautiful tree that will be a bright decoration for any landscape. Indeed, there are many reasons why this tree is simply adored. Someone for the magnificent fiery foliage in the fall, from which it is difficult to take your eyes off, and someone for the beautiful flowers that can be observed in summer. And someone loves the fact that they just look differently interesting at any time of the year. But lovers of this plant can sometimes come across an unsympathetic white bloom on the crape myrtle bark. Unfortunately, this suggests that pests have appeared on your favorite tree.

White Scale on Crepe Myrtle

Scale on tree bark are small pests that have recently been discovered. They typically attack trees that grow in the southeastern United States. The Texas AgriLife Extension found that these pests were most likely imported from the Far East. The insect is believed to have appeared in Texas around 2004. Since then, they have spread to 11 more neighboring states. This pest is fairly small (an adult female about 1/10 inch in size), white or green scale on tree bark. If you look closely at the tree, you may notice clusters of pink eggs called “crawling” eggs.

If you crush a female, then a little pink liquid will flow out of it. You can also easily recognize the pest by its waxy crusty coating. Despite its size, it is quite easy to spot an insect if you just look closely. Most often, they settle on bark, branches, or in cut areas. They settle in the following way: they stick to branches or the trunk of a tree. Sometimes it also happens that they settle under the flaking bark, which greatly complicates their detection, especially if the infection is just beginning. If you are the owner of this wonderful tree, then for preventive purposes, we advise you to carefully look at the bark of the tree while taking care, so as not to make the situation worse. But even if this has already happened, do not worry, in this article, we will tell you how you can get rid of them.

The Life Cycle of Scale

tree scale disease

The males of these pests fly in search of a female for mating. When this happens, the females produce eggs and lay them on the bark of the tree. After laying the eggs, the females die. The crape myrtle scale eggs, in the form of white capsules, sit on the bark until small caterpillars hatch from them and creep along other branches.

Females are quite fertile: they can lay from 60 to 250 eggs at a time. The cold does not affect them, because the eggs can overwinter the cold season and hatch as much as mid-April and in May. Hatched caterpillars are difficult to spot without a handheld lens. You can wrap double-sided sticky tape around the smaller branches to catch them.

Tree Scale Disease Symptoms

The first and most noticeable symptom is the appearance of a white crape myrtle scale on the bark of the tree. Although the scale may not completely kill the tree, it can greatly damage the vitality of the tree. This is manifested in the “late” flowering of the tree in comparison with healthy ones. Another fairly common symptom is the appearance of numerous fungus on crape myrtle bark, trunk, branches, and foliage. Also, with a strong infection with scale, such a phenomenon as flaking crape myrtle bark is observed.

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale Treatment

crape myrtle bark

Crape myrtle scale treatment takes time and persistence and is not easy to remove the first time. But if you follow the instructions that we give below, you have a chance to save your tree from scale on a crape myrtle. To combat them, you can use the following methods:

Direct Removal of Pests

This seemingly simple step will make other treatments much more effective. Cleaning will also have a positive effect on the appearance of the tree. To do this, you should mix a solution of liquid soap and water, take a soft brush, and gently scrub the affected areas as much as possible. You can also use high-pressure watering, which will remove the loose bark of the tree, and thus the cover to the crape myrtle scale.

Soil Washing

This is perhaps the most effective way to get rid of scale. The most suitable chemical for solving this problem would be dinotefuran. It is quite often found in various concentrates designed for tree care. These systemic insecticides penetrate plants and provide control for up to one year! To achieve the greatest efficiency, they should be applied in the spring, just when the plants begin to grow. The most popular forms of such products are granular products to be scattered around the plants, soil irrigation fluids, and sprays.

When flushing the soil, be sure to remove the mulch from the trunk to allow the agent to reach the root system. A true friend in the fight against scale can be products such as Bayer Advanced Garden Tree and Shrub Insect Control, Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control, or Greenlight Tree and Shrub Insect Control. To test the effectiveness of the action after soaking the soil, you can conduct the following experiment: scrape the bodies of adult scale, and if you notice that a red-pink liquid flows out of them, this means that they are still alive. In this case, you can use a little more of these products, just be sure to follow the instructions on the package so as not to harm the crape myrtle. But if after the experiment you notice that no liquid flows out of them, then you can be calm, the scale are killed.

Safety Notes for Tree Processing

Since some varieties of crepe myrtle can grow up to 30 pounds tall, it is difficult to spray crepe myrtle tree bark for pest control. Firstly, it is worth refraining from this method of struggle in windy weather, since a significant part of the product simply will not get on the plant, and what is worse, it can get on you.

Secondly, be sure to wear protective clothing during the treatment process, especially if you are spraying trees that are tall enough. It is recommended that you also trim the crepe myrtle slightly before spraying to provide better spray coverage, delay flowering and reduce harmful effects. When using dinotefuran, the amount to be applied is calculated based on the height of the crepe myrtle or the diameter of the trunk. In this case, pruning the tree can also reduce the amount of product needed.

Unfortunately, the means by which we fight silverfish also have harmful effects on other pollinating insects that feed on pollen and nectar. But systemic soil insecticides have a less negative impact on pollinating insects than spraying.

How to Save Crepe Myrtle without Chemical Exposure

crape myrtle scale

If you want to save a tree, but don’t want to use chemicals, then there is also a safe option for getting rid of the scale. If crape myrtle is heavily infested, then cut the plant at the same level as the ground. The part that you cut off urgently needs to be burned or placed in a garbage bag and thrown away. Don’t worry, the stumps sprout pretty quickly after cutting.

To form a beautiful tree, choose 3-4 shoots that are located most evenly around the cut stump, and trim the remaining shoots, and mulch the soil around the stump. For rapid growth of shoots, fertilize the plant twice during the spring (around early April and mid-May). Thus, within 3 years, a beautiful flowering tree will grow in place of the cut stump.

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