Video: How to treat crapemyrtle bark scale at home

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist Dr. Mike Merchant walks viewers through the proper steps for treating crapemyrtle bark scale, or CMBS. (Texas A&M AgriLife video)

Writer: Gabe Saldana, 956-408-5040, gabe.saldana@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Dr. Mike Merchant, 972-952-9204, m-merchant@tamu.edu

DALLAS — A new video by a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist gives viewers step-by-step instructions on treating trees for crapemyrtle bark scale, or CMBS.

“Maybe its worst feature is that it produces a sugary excrement that makes the leaves sticky,” said Dr. Mike Merchant in Dallas about the pest. “It turns the beautiful honey-colored trunks of crapemyrtle into black sticks and also appears to reduce blooms and weaken some trees.”

His video on controlling CMBS is available at https://tinyurl.com/merchantbarkscale. It provides examples of infested trees as well as instructions on selecting, mixing and applying the proper treatments.

Discovered in North Texas in 2004, CMBS is relatively new to gardeners in the southern U.S., Merchant said. It is a small, white, sap-feeding insect that lives on the bark of crapemyrtle trees.

“The good news is we now have some strong insecticidal control methods for CMBS and we are seeing more natural control with the help of beneficial insects,” Merchant said. “Several kinds of lady beetles are helping to keep scale numbers down in many locations.”

He encourages Texas gardeners encountering CMBS for the first time to take a picture and submit it at https://www.eddmaps.org/ — a web-based mapping system for documenting invasive species distribution.

“If you have a crapemyrtle tree and have not yet encountered CMBS, consider yourself lucky,” Merchant said. “For the rest of us, this insect is a pestilence. Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time before CMBS spreads throughout the southeastern U.S.”

Information on controlling a range of insect pests, including CMBS, is available at Merchant’s website https://citybugs.tamu.edu and by contacting him at m-merchant@tamu.edu.

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