New pest attacking crape myrtles in the South

by Kathie Rowell, special to the Times

Crape myrtles paint the South in candy colors every summer.

Unfortunately, the trees that brighten our hottest months are under attack by a foreign invader — crape myrtle bark scale.

The tiny pest was first identified in the Dallas area about 10 years ago and is believed to have entered the country from Asia. Since then, it’s been slowly making its way across the South, arriving in Shreveport-Bossier City about four years ago. Infestations have also been verified in Houma, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia.

“Ground-zero for crape myrtle bark scale in Louisiana is the Shreveport and Bossier City areas,” said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. It’s also been found in Hammond, Minden, Monroe, Rayville, Houma and possibly Alexandria.

Movement has been slow because female scales don’t fly and crawl only in the nymph stage, rarely very far from their host tree. Humans are primarily responsible for their spread, either by planting infested trees or transporting the pest from one tree to another on lawn equipment such as pruners.

AgCenter forester Ricky Kilpatrick, based in Bossier City, says he gets calls almost daily from homeowners seeking information about the pest, which sucks nutrients from trees. “It’s popping up everywhere,” he said.

And it’s likely to get worse.

Go to the Shreveport Times for the rest of the story.

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