Crape myrtles can liven up any property with colorful blooms and lush leaves.

But if they become infested with bark scale, they can be a real eye sore and even die.

Luckily, crape myrtle bark scale is both preventable and treatable. Here’s a look at what bark scale is and how you can keep your crape myrtles healthy and looking their best.

What is Scale?

Scale can affect a variety of ornamental trees and small shrubs, but crape myrtle bark scale is unique to that particular tree.

Crape myrtle bark scale feeds on the tree, creating a liquid called honeydew. The sugars in honeydew support the growth of a fungus called sooty mold, which produces large, black areas on the bark of the tree.

Our team has seen cases in Germantown, Tennessee where this sooty mold coats entire crape myrtles. We have also seen this type of scale suppress the tree’s colorful blooms, affecting the overall strength of the tree and ultimately killing it.

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How can I Protect my Crape Myrtles from Scale?

Start deep-root treatment on your crape myrtle trees during the spring season and before heavy blooming takes place. This will prevent infecting beneficial aphids and honeybees.

Your treatment should include a combination of a systemic insecticide and a 18-3-6 liquid fertilizer as it has proven successful in both protecting the tree and improving its overall strength. This treatment also protects against heavy stress during the summer months.

Keep in mind that multiple treatments might be required to control the scale throughout the entire season, as it can have two to three generations of growth per year.

What are the Warning Signs of Scale?

Crape myrtle bark scale is easy to identify because it’s the only scale insect that infests crape myrtles.

These insects are 2 to 3 millimeters long and have a gray-to-white, felt coating.

If you squeeze the insect it will produce a pink to red fluid, meaning the scale is active.

Once the scale is active, you will notice the bark, foliage and even the blooms begin to turn black. 

Also note that pruning your crape myrtles can be an easy entry point for these insects. Make sure that you have an experienced landscape contractor prune all of your crape myrtle trees.

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How do I Treat Infested Trees?

If your crape myrtle tree already has bark scale and is determined active, deep-root treatment is recommended immediately.

When treating, be careful not to use more than needed as you don’t want the bark scale to build up a resistance to your systemic insecticide.

Crape myrtles can add curb appeal to your property but only if they are properly cared for. Learn about crape myrtle bark scale now to continue earning aesthetic value to your property later.