Spring has officially sprung, and the wildflowers are outstanding this year! I have really enjoyed watching the wildflowers change from Bluebonnets to Primrose to Indian Blanket, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Springtime also brings a lot of insects. One insect that I have written about before, Crape Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS), is showing up this spring on Crape Myrtles and some new plant hosts. CMBS is a small, white, sap-feeding insect that lives on the bark of crape myrtle trees. The adult females look like tiny pieces of popcorn attached near pruning wounds or in the branch crotches. They are usually 2mm in length. If you squish the scale, it has bright pink insides. CMBS does not kill the tree, but it can cause reduced flowering and the scale secretes a honeydew that causes sooty mold.
The AgriLife Extension Specialists in College Station are doing good research on CMBS, and they recently presented information about other plants that have become hosts to this scale insect. Boxwood, pomegranate, cleyera, hackberry, persimmon, soybean, figs, Ligustrum, apple, and beautyberry have all been confirmed as hosts for Crape Myrtle Bark Scale. This week, I had two Williamson County Master Gardener Volunteers bring a sample of their beautyberry with CMBS.
The good news about CMBS is that we have several treatment options, and now is the time to do it! If you just spot a few, you can squish them. You can also use soapy water and a brush to remove infestations from your plants. Scrubbing your tree can also help remove sooty mold. Ladybeetles are a natural enemy of CMBS, if you prefer to use a biological control option. If you have a heavy infestation, AgriLife Specialists recommend a systemic insecticide application to be made in March – May. Imidacloprid and dinotefuran are two systemic insecticides that you can apply as a soil drench. Both chemicals have been shown to be highly effective at managing scale populations when they are applied in early spring.