Crapemyrtle bark scale discovered in Florida

Crapemyrtle bark scale discovered in Florida

If you reside in Florida, look out for crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; fig 1) next time you wander the landscape!

Figure 1 The black sooty mold coating the layers of white and grey scale, common symptoms of crapemyrtle bark scale infestation. [Photo by Gary Knox]

Florida is one of the leading states in environmental horticulture plant products (Khachatryan and Hodges, 2012), and crapemyrtle is widely utilized as woody ornamentals throughout Florida (Kalaman, 2021). After avoiding CMBS for one and half decades, unfortunately, CMBS has finally found its way to Florida (Fig 2). In 2021, a Florida homeowner in Pace, Florida (Santa Rosa County) reported an unusual insect infestation on crapemyrtle, which was later confirmed as caused by CMBS via molecular analysis (Salinas, 2021; Susan E. Halbert, 2021).

Figure 2 Heavy infestation of crapemyrtle bark scale can be seen from the road. [Photo by Dyrana Russell, FDACS-DPI.]

Back in 2018, when CMBS was not yet detected in Florida, scientists at the IFAS extension (University of Florida) predicted the potential risk of CMBS spreading to Florida as infestations were found in Alabama and Georgia (Borden et al., 2018). Historically, crape myrtle has been susceptible to a limited range of pests and pathogens, such as powdery mildew (Erysiphe lagerstroemiae) and the crape myrtle aphid (Tinocallis kahawaluokalani) (Kalaman, 2021). However, the newly detected CMBS infestation poses an additional risk to other common plants in the Florida landscape, such as American beautyberry.
If you suspect that you may have CMBS in your landscape, please contact your local county extension agent. If residing in the Florida panhandle area, you may contact Dr. Xavier Martini ( or Dr. Adam Dale ( if in central or south Florida.

Borden M., Martini X., Dale A. (2018) Crapemyrtle bark scale, Acanthococcus (= Eriococcus) lagerstroemiae (Kuwana)(Insecta: Hemiptera: Eriococcidae). EENY-711 Department of Entomology and Nematology, UF/IFAS Extension. IN121800. pdf (ufl. edu).(Last accessed 14 May 2021.).
Kalaman H. (2021) Crape myrtle bark scale (Acanthococcus lagerstroemia) recently discovered in Florida, UF/IFAS.
Khachatryan H., Hodges A.W. (2012) Florida nursery crops and landscaping industry economic outlook. UF-IFAS Nursery Report.
Salinas M. (2021) Look Out for This New Scale on Crapemyrtles, UF/IFAS.
Susan E. Halbert M.M., Lily Deeter, Douglass R. Miller, Dyrana N. Russell, and Xavier Martini. (2021) Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae (Kuwana), crapemyrtle bark scale, detected in the Florida Panhandle.

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