Crapemyrtle bark scale, Eriococcus laqerstroemia, is a new pest of crapemyrtle and is emerging as a major threat to crapemyrtles throughout Florida and the Southeast U.S. This pest was first discovered in the Dallas TX area in 2004 and in recent years has spread rapidly to areas such as Tulsa OK, Memphis TN, New Orleans and Shreveport LA and Mobile AL (very close to Florida). The expanding distribution of crapemyrtle bark scale and my personal observations of this pest on crapemyrtle in China suggest it could have a widespread and severe impact on crapemyrtle production, use and marketability. For more updated information on where this pest has been found, go to http://www.eddmaps.org/cmbs/distribution.cfm.
Figure 1 Note the black sooty mold coating the layers of white and grey scale, believed to be crapemyrtle bark scale, Eriococcus lagerstroemiae. [Photo by Gary Knox]
Symptoms and Appearance
An early symptom of crapemyrtle bark scale is black sooty mold covering extensive areas of leaves and stems as a result of honeydew exuded by the scale (Fig. 1). Individual scale insects are white to gray in color and ooze pink when crushed (Fig. 2). Large populations build up in branch crotches and extend up branches, appearing crusty white to gray. This scale usually is not present on new growth, leaves or slender stems unless infestations are heavy.
For more information and additional photos
Resources, up-to-date information and additional photos about crapemyrtle bark scale may be found at http://www.eddmaps.org/cmbs/. This website will be the major portal for information about this pest.
Figure 2. This white to grey colored scale oozes pink when crushed. [Photo by Gary Knox]
Research on crapemyrtle bark scale is ongoing. Scientists from the University of Florida, LSU, University of Arkansas and Texas A&M are collaborating to develop Best Management Practices to manage crapemyrtle bark scale in the nursery and landscape. Initial research is examining the biology of the host-insect interaction to better understand its life cycle and stages when it may be most susceptible for control. Additional research will evaluate pesticides and other IPM strategies for managing this pest.
The expanding distribution of this scale and my personal observations of crapemyrtle bark scale throughout China suggest this scale could have a widespread and severe impact on crapemyrtles in landscapes. Please be on the lookout for crapemyrtle bark scale, and report sightings to your local county extension agent and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry.
As the ant and termite swarm season begins, here is one species to be aware of.
The red dots on the map indicate the known distribution of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, in Florida, as of 2013. Figure by Rudolf Scheffrahn, University of Florida.
Formosan subterranean termite (FST) acquired its name because it was first described in Taiwan in the early 1900s.
Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, is the most widely distributed and most economically important wood destroying insect. In the city of New Orleans where this termite species was introduced in the 1950’s, the control and repair costs due to FST are estimated at $300 million annually. A single colony of FST may contain several million termites (versus several hundred thousand termites for native subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 ft in soil. Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of FST colonies poses serious threats to nearby structures. The FST generally invades structures from the ground. They commonly enter through expansion joints, cracks and utility conduits in slabs. Any wood-to-ground contact is an inviting entrance for FST infestations.
Studies also found that FST attack many species of living plants. The FST attacks structural lumbers and living plants because they are sources of cellulose. However, this termite is also known to attack non-cellulose materials such as plaster, plastic, asphalt, and thin sheets of soft metal (lead or copper) in search of food and moisture. The combination of water and wood or other cellulose materials provide attractive conditions for the FST. Leaky plumbing, air conditioning condensate, and any portion of the building that may collect excessive amounts of moisture should be corrected to maintain an environment less attractive to FST.
Conventional method for control of subterranean termites, including the FST is to place a chemical barrier between termites and the structure to be protected. Because of the large size of a FST colony, application of soil termiticide beneath a structure may not impact the overall population. Bait stations containing a monitoring device can be first installed in soil surrounding a home. When termites are found in the station, the monitoring device is replaced with a tube containing pesticide bait. Termites feeding in the stations then carry baits to other members of a colony, leading to the demise of entire colony population.
All baits are to be applied by trained pest control professionals. Efficacy and claims of these commercial bait products may differ from one another. It is prudent to read the fine print and ask questions. Many new Florida residents are unfamiliar with homeowner insurance related to Formosan termite damage. If you want to learn more, plan on attending one of the local workshops listed in the link below.
Photo 1 Large Carpenter Bee – Photo by Shep Eubanks
Photo 2 Carpenter Bee Gallery – photo courtesy of bugwood.org
Every year beginning in mid-March to early-April, Extension Agents begin to receive inquiries about managing carpenter bees which are attacking barns, eaves, rafters, and other wooden structures. The bee most commonly responsible for economic damages is typically the large Carpenter bee (see Photo 1)
This is when nesting takes place in structural timbers, fence posts, wooden water tanks, or the like (see Photo 2). Chandler (1958) lists four types of damage done by carpenter bees: weakening of structural timbers,
gallery excavation in wooden water tanks (especially in arid western areas), defecation streaking on houses (see Photo 3) or painted structures, and human annoyance. The last point is included since carpenter bee females may sting (rarely), and male bees may hover or dart at humans who venture into the nesting area.
In general, carpenter bees are a minor problem. Carpenter bees rarely attack painted or varnished wood, while natural wood is more attractive. If there is a problem with carpenter bees, apply a finish to the wood.
These bees often cause problems on structures by boring into the wood surface which is the back face of the trim under the eaves since this surface is usually not painted. A buzzing or drilling sound is heard when the bee is boring into the wood.
If the hole is not visible, often the case when the bee is boring into the backside of trim, look for sawdust on the ground under the hole.
Unpainted, exposed wood is especially attractive to carpenter bees. The most effective deterrent to carpenter bee activities is a painted (oil base or polyurethane) surface.
Insecticide additive paints are available which may repel bees attempting to nest. Wood stains provide little repelling action. Nail holes or exposed saw cuts should be filled in with wood putty or dowels and painted.
If practical, remove severely damaged wood and replace with chemical pressure-treated wood to deter nest construction. To further discourage carpenter bees looking for potential nesting sites, a homeowner should secure all doors, windows, and other building openings during the spring. Non-wood surfaces such as vinyl siding are not damaged by carpenter bees.
A very effective, low cost trap can be constructed from scrap plywood, several of 16 ounce plastic water bottles, a few wood screws, a piece of wire, and a little bit of electrical tape as seen in Photos 4,5, and 6 below. A hole approximately 1/2 inch in diameter works very well. Three or four of these traps positioned at the corners of a building or strategically within a structure can greatly reduce bee numbers with minimal insecticide, structural painting, or other practices. In Photo 4, the trap has only been in place for 5 days. Use of insecticides remains an option.
For more information, contact your local Extension Agent or check out this publication :
Large Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa spp. (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Apidae: Xylocopinae)
Photo 4 Trap Full of Bees – photo by Shep Eubanks
Photo 3 Typical Boring and Defecation Damage – photo by Shep Eubanks
Photo 5 Close up of Trap Construction – photo by Shep Eubanks
Photo 6 Hole Size of 1/2 inch – photo by Shep Eubanks
Some times the lawn just gets away from us. It can be completely invaded by weeds or have a devastating disease or insect pest cause total destruction. If your lawn is problem prone there are many cultural practices that can be modified to ensure a successful lawn, but sometimes the lawn is in need of a fresh start and needs to be completely reestablished. If over 50% of the lawn is undesirable than it is time to take action to develop better lawn.
What are the factors that may have caused your lawn to decline so badly? Well here are some common problems that may need to be overcome as you move your lawn into its new era:
Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent for lawn recommendations, Photo Credit: Blake Thaxton
As a new lawn is established, correcting these problems will help to ensure the investment will be better taken care of in the future.
Which turf should I choose for my next lawn? Try to answer these questions before you decide:
- How much maintenance can I provide?
- What do I expect aesthetically?
- Are there any site limitations ?
Here is a publication from Alabama Cooperative Extension to help you choose the correct turfgrass for your next lawn: Selecting Turfgrasses for Home Lawns (while looking at the tables use the South adaptation for the Florida panhandle)
Once the turfgrass type has been chosen, a variety must be chosen. Here are some recommendations:
- Centipede – ‘Common’
- Zoysia – ‘Empire’, ‘UltimateFlora’, ‘El Toro’
- St. Augustine – ‘Palmetto’, ‘Classic’
Get more information on Lawn Management in the Florida Lawn Handbook
It’s that time of year again, that time when your car changes color like a chameleon in order to mimic the surrounding landscape. Anything that stands still long enough will become coated with a light green to yellow dust. What is this dust you might ask? What you are seeing is pollen, a sure sign that spring has arrived and allergy season is here! The pollen that can be seen is from pine trees and is not a major contributor to allergies, but the invisible pollen from oak trees and other plants can wreak havoc on sinuses. And while you may be cursing the trees for causing your eyes to water and coating your car, it’s important to remember that plants need pollen in order to reproduce.
Pollen disseminating from a pine tree anther. Picture courtesy of http://supermanherbs.com/megadose-pine-pollen/
Pollen is disseminated from blooming trees and plants. The process of pollination develops new plant seeds. Pollen is dry and light, enabling it to float through the wind and travel several miles. Plants that depend on wind for dispersal have to produce massive amounts of pollen since only a small amount will actually result in seed production. Plants pollinated by insects don’t have to produce as much pollen because of the efficiency of the insects in distributing the pollen. Changes in the weather directly influence the amount of pollen and how it will affect allergy sufferers. Rain dampens pollen and reduces its ability to flow through the air. A freeze can also slow down a tree’s rate of producing pollen. Windy and warm weather can increase pollen amounts.
A Leon County allergy and asthma specialist stated that roughly 40 percent of the population suffers from pollen allergies. The best thing you can do if you are part of this 40 percent is to reduce your exposure to pollen. Here are a few ways you can keep your allergies at bay:
- Dry clothes in an automatic dryer rather than hanging them outside to avoid pollen collecting on clothing and being carried indoors.
- Consider limiting outdoor activities during the pollen season (Florida trees often release pollen from January to June).
- Stay inside during peak pollen times (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
- Restrict outdoor activities during days with high winds and low humidity.
- Shower after spending time outdoors to remove pollen from hair and skin.
- Use air filters and clean regularly, or run an air conditioner and change the air filter frequently.
- Wear a dust mask when mowing the lawn, gardening, or raking leaves.
If you would like to know what trees are producing pollen in your area at certain times of the year you can visit this website http://www.pollenlibrary.com/State/Florida/. As always, feel free to contact your local Extension Office for more information.