Category Archives: Personnel Update

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae) has long been reported with a fairly wide host range. Online insect database has accumulated a good amount of host information for CMBS. For example, ScaleNet reported over 20 plant species from 15 families as CMBS hosts, including boxwood (Buxus microphylla), Chinese hackberry (Celtis sinensis), Axlewood (Anogeissus latifolia), Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki), food wrapper plant (Mallotus japonicus), Dalbergia eremicola, soybean (Glycine max), Kalm’s St. Johnswort (Hypericum kalmianum),  American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), giant crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa), pomegranate (Punica granatum), common fig (Ficus carica), myrtle (Myrtus spp.), border privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium), Japanese Ternstroemia (Ternstroemia japonica), Needlebush (Glochidion puberum), Paradise apple (Malus pumila), Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis), Brambles (Rubus spp.) (García Morales M, 2016). Previous reported CMBS hosts were compiled from many literatures that dates to 1907, therefore some of information need to be verified and confirmed. Recently, as the distribution of CMBS continues to…

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Congratulations to Bin Wu for receiving 1st place prize for Ph.D. poster at the annual Texas Plant Protection Conference held December 8 – 10th (2020). Due to COVID-19, the conference was held virtually this year. The poster was titled “EPG Application in feeding behavior study helps rapidly confirm potential hosts of crapemyrtle bark scale (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae)”. Traditional methods used to determine host range of a pest can be time consuming and costly, due to the need to rear the pest on the host plant. This study uses electrical penetration graph (EPG) monitoring to track crapemyrtle bark scales’ style penetration in real-time to rapidly determine host plant acceptance. The full poster is available for download below.

Congratulations to our colleague Dr. David Held from the crapemyrtle bark scale team for his promotion to Chair of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University. Congratulations Dr. Held!

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae) is an exotic pest species that is causing aesthetic and economic damages to crapemyrtles and posing potential threats to other horticultural crops. Although previous studies reported the infestation of CMBS on at least 13 alternative hosts within families of Buxaceae, Cannabaceae, Combretaceae, Ebenaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Lythraceae, Moraceae, Oleaceae, Phyllanthaceae, and Rosaceae in Asia, its potential threats to other documented alternative hosts remain elusive and yet to be confirmed in the United States. Feeding preference trials of CMBS were conducted on forty-nine plant species and cultivars in 2016 and 2019. The infestations of CMBS were confirmed on Malus domestica (apple), Chaenomeles speciosa (flowering quince), Diospyros rhombifolia (diamond-leaf persimmon), Heimia salicifolia (sinicuichi), Lagerstroemia ‘Spiced Plum’ (crapemyrtle), M. angustifolia (southern crabapple), and twelve out of thirty-five pomegranate cultivars. However, the levels of CMBS infestation on these test plant hosts in this study is very low compared to…

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Black sooty mold is one of the major issues with heavy crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae) infestation, which greatly reduces the aesthetic value of host plants. Black sooty mold can be seen not only on crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) but also on alternative hosts infested with CMBS such as American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and pomegranates (Punica granatum) (Figure 1). Sooty mold is a collective term that comprises of several genera of fungi including Aureobasidium, Antennariella, Cladosporium, Capnodium, Limacinula, and Scorias [1]. These fungi grow on the honeydew secreted by sucking insects (such as CMBS nymphs) when they are actively feeding on the plant [2,3]. Honeydew secretion is commonly found in all hemipteran insects such as aphids (Aphidoidea) and mealybugs (Pseudococcidae). The damages to plant health related to CMBS honeydew secretion is indirect since this sugar-rich sticky substance is not pathogenic to plants. However, sooty mold blocks sunlight on leaves and…

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Harmonia axyridis feeding on CMBS. Photo by Daniel Tomi

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS) poses a huge threat to the utility of crapemyrtle trees by reducing aesthetic value due to sooty mold growth and disrupting photosynthesis. Currently, most homeowners and nursery producers rely on chemical insecticides to manage CMBS populations, but these pesticides can negatively impact natural enemies, pollinators, and the environment at large. Different management approaches are being investigated to reduce the reliance on insecticides, particularly systemic insecticides to reduce CMBS populations and damage. When insects feed on plants, the plants emit a blend of volatile odors; ‘smell’s that are released into the air. One function of these volatile odors is to attract predators to attack the herbivores. Multiple species of lady beetles present already in landscapes are attacking CMBS as predators and have the potential for biological control of CMBS. Unfortunately, lady beetles don’t arrive until populations of CMBS are large and causing damage. What if we could attract them…

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Tune in today, Friday March 27th, at 11 am CST, for an online webinar hosted by North Carolina State University (Stacey Jones) on crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS); the invasive insect pest of crapemyrtles. The presenter will be Erfan Vafaie, covering the introduction, spread, population dynamics, and management of crapemyrtle bark scale for landscapers, nursery growers, and homeowners. Presentation co-authors include Dr. Mengmeng Gu, Dr. Mike Merchant, Dr. John Hopkins, Dr. James A. Robbins, Dr. Yan Chen, Dr. Kevin Heinz, Kyle Gilder, and Kenneth Masloski. The PowerPoint presentation and PDF is already available on our website for download: https://stopcmbs.com/resources/presentations/ The presentation will be recorded and made available for viewing; visit this page in the near future to get an update on where to view the video on-demand. https://ncsu.zoom.us/j/286125055

Additional contributors to this article include: Dr. Rodrigo Diaz, Dr. Yan Chen, Dr. Blake Wilson, and Dr. Vinson Doyle. Current crapemyrtle bark scale management methods depend heavily on pesticides, which can have a negative impact on beneficial insects. Biopesticides, insecticides that are developed from live organisms, have shown potential for managing several pests and have low impact on non-target insects and other organisms. The objectives of this research were to determine (1) if biopesticides can be used as a management tool to suppress crapemyrtle bark scale in different seasons, and (2) effects towards beneficial lady beetles known to attack crapemyrtle bark scale. For those interested, here as some details as to how we designed our trial. Treatments were applied as a bark spray to potted plants or full-grown trees infested with crapemyrtle bark scale during winter, spring, and fall 2019. The fungal biopesticides Ancora® (Isaria fumosorosea strain PFR97) and BioCeres®…

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In Overton, Texas, we’re about done tying up crapemyrtles, getting them on drip irrigation, and starting pre-assessments. We have a total of 100 standard (Queen’s Lace) and 100 dwarf (Pocomoke) cultivars, all highly infested with crapemyrtle bark scale, for our research trial. Before deciding what insecticides and timing of applications we would try, we had to summarize some of our past results. All of our past work on crapemyrtle bark scale insecticide trials are available through Arthropod Management Tests (https://academic.oup.com/amt and search for “crapemyrtle bark scale”). If you’re feeling a bit intimidated by the papers in Arthropod Management Tests, I made a short video tutorial walking through some of the jargon used in insecticide efficacy work. The following table is based on data from our Overton Center: Table last update July 8, 2020. We’re going to be testing some of the products that were considered “inconclusive” in our past trials,…

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