Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Working Group

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Working Group

 

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS) is a relatively new insect found principally on crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia) across the Southeast. Known scientifically as Acanthococcus (=Eriococcuslagerstroemiae (Kuwana), it is a member of the bark or felt scale family (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae). Native to Asia, CMBS was first noticed in a north Dallas, Texas, suburb in 2004. By 2016, the insect had been reported from eleven states. This exotic scale causes heavy honeydew deposits followed by a disfiguring layer of dark black sooty mold which severely diminishes the landscape value of this important ornamental plant. Although not yet quantified by research, field observations suggest heavy infestations of CMBS reduces the size of panicles, delays flowering, and kills small twigs on crapemyrtle. (Note: several common names are used for Lagerstroemia including: crapemyrtle, crape myrtle, crepemyrtle, and crepe myrtle.) In Asia CMBS has been reported on plants from 16 genera in 13 families, most notably persimmon and pomegranate. In the US the scale has also been recorded feeding on Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry). 

Led by Mengmeng Gu of Texas A&M AgriLife, the Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Working Group received a $3.3 million grant to evaluate control methods and their impacts on beneficial insects and pollinators. The group has been tracking the pest's movement through distribution maps powered by EddMaps.

The group's goal is to understand consumer and industry preferences for management practices and analyzes their impacts on sales.