Look Out for This New Scale on Crapemyrtles

Look Out for This New Scale on Crapemyrtles

Crapemyrtle bark scale are often found in branch crotches and wounds to the bark. Photo credit: Gary Knox, UF/IFAS.

There is a new pest in the western panhandle of Florida. Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS) is a scale that is found on the trunks, branches, and twigs of crapemyrtle. It is the only known scale insect found on the bark of crapemyrtle. There are other scales that occur on the leaves.

When scouting for this pest, look for very small (2 mm or 0.08 inch) white or light gray spots on the bark of crapemyrtle. The adult females do not ever move once they have found a place to feed and reproduce. Under her protective covering, she lays eggs that hatch into ‘crawlers’ that then crawl away to find their own spot to settle down. When squished, they exude a pink goo (the eggs or newly hatched crawlers). Males are winged and travel to find their mates. See this comprehensive information on their interesting biology.

While the scale does not outright kill the trees, it lessens their landscape value and can reduce flowering. And like other scale, CMBS secretes lots of honeydew; black sooty mold then feeds and grows on the honeydew. The black sooty mold does not harm the plants directly, but it is unsightly and can interfere with photosynthesis if present on the leaves.

Crapemyrtle bark scale are white to gray and ooze pink when squished. Photo credit: Gary Knox, UF/IFAS. ,

Unfortunately, CMBS has also been found on a very popular native bush, American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, and it is yet unknown whether CMBS will expand its host range to other plant species in our country. In Asia, this pest has been found on some economically important crops like pomegranate and persimmon.

CMBS is a tough insect to control. And it is best left to the professionals. Dr. Adam Dale, an entomologist at the University of Florida, recommends using pyriproxyfen (in the product Distance) or buprofezin (in the product Talus). These are insect growth regulators that have shown to provide great control of CMBS and other similar scale insects on trees and other woody plants. Although these products are not systemic, they are translaminar, which helps increase their control and reduce any non-target effects on beneficial insects like bees. Two applications 7–14 days apart are suggested. However, these products can only be applied by licensed pest control applicators.

Severe infestation of crapemyrtle bark scale and sooty black mold. Photo credit: Gary Knox, UF/IFAS.

Systemic insecticide drenches are effective but pose a dangerous hazard to bees and other pollinators as the poison also gets into the flower nectar. The product labels prohibit application of these type of products to flowering plants for that very reason.

Routine close inspection of your crapemyrtle trees is critical for CMBS control. Early treatment will help prevent heavy infestations as seen in some of the photographs. When pruning your crapemyrtles, thoroughly clean your tools between plants to prevent any accidental spread.

Prevent this scale from coming into your landscape in the first place. Inspect all new plants you are considering adding to your landscape for any sign of CMBS or other insect or disease presence.

If you have any questions on making the correct identification of CMBS, or any other insect, contact your county extension office.

Lastly, consider reporting the presence of this new scale to enable researchers to track its spread.

For more information:

Stop CMBS Website

UF/IFAS Featured Creatures: crapemyrtle bark scale

Green Worms in My Yard

Green Worms in My Yard

If you’ve been raking leaves recently, you’ve probably noticed little green worms hanging from the trees.  They seem to be in abundance this year and can be found crawling on driveways, just hanging around, and maybe even feeding on oak tree leaves.

These green worms that are all over the yard are oak leafrollers (Archips semiferanus) or oak leaftiers (Croesia semipurpurana).  Some people may refer to them as inchworms, however a number of different caterpillars can go by that name.  Leafrollers and leaftiers range in length from 1/4″ to 1″.  The adult form of these insects is a 1/2″ long moth.  The oak leafroller moth is mottled tan and brown and the oak leaftier moth is yellow with brown markings.

oak leafroller

An oak leafroller caterpillar crawling on a leaf. Photo Credit: Blair Fannin, Texas A&M University

In May, the adults of both species lay their eggs in the twigs and leaf buds of a number of tree species.  The eggs don’t hatch until March of the following year.  When the caterpillars emerge, they feed on the newly forming leaves and flowers of oak, hackberry, pecan and walnut trees.  If they are disturbed, they will stop feeding and hang from a strand of silk.  Oak leafroller caterpillars pupate in tree branches, while oak leaftier caterpillars drop to the ground and pupate in leaf litter.  Adult moths emerge in one to two weeks.

Leafroller Moth

A leafroller moth with wings spread. Photo Credit: U.S. National Museum

The oak leafrollers and oak leaftiers don’t really do enough damage to be considered pests, but they are a bit of a nuisance.  Thankfully, birds and parasitic wasps will eat and kill the majority of the population.  For in-depth information on most of the interesting insects in your yard, please visit the UF/IFAS Featured Creatures Website.

Watch Out for Stinkbugs and their Relatives!

Watch Out for Stinkbugs and their Relatives!

Stinkbugs and their relatives are not always problematic in the flower or vegetable garden, but when they become so, they can suck the life out of our fruits and vegetables, create ugly abrasions, and destroy flowers such as roses.

Over-wintering adult leaffooted bug emerging from hibernation . Image Credit Matthew Orwat, UF / IFAS Extension

The green stink bug Acrosternum hilare (Say)

The green stink bug Acrosternum hilare (Say). Image and caption credit EDIS, Dr. Russ Mizell

What is a Stink Bug?

The stink bug (Pentatomidae family) is a major garden pest of a variety of fruits and vegetables including squash, peppers, tomatoes, peaches, plums, pecans and a variety of other edibles. They are known as a “piercing and sucking” insect because that’s the way they feed, by using their mouth, or proboscis, just like a needle to pierce the fruit and suck out the juices. This feeding leaves a damaged area of the fruit which may develop discoloration, rot or fungal disease and render the fruit unsaleable or inedible.

Who are “their relatives”

The leaf footed bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus (L), is a relative of the stinkbug and feeds in the same way, has a similar lifecycle and causes similar damage. They are usually slightly larger and have “leaf like” appendages on their legs which are their namesake.

What is their lifecycle?

In Florida, overwintering adult stink bugs will place a clutch, or tight group of eggs, on a host plant early in the growing season. If their preferred plant is not available, they use a variety of weeds and grasses to lay eggs upon and provide food for their young.  After eggs hatch, they go through several nymph stages before they finally reach the adult stage.  Stink bugs have multiple generations in a year, often four to five. They readily move to find preferable food sources and might appear in a garden without warning to feed and cause destruction.

Nymph of the leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus (L.). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Nymph of the leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus (L.). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

How are they best controlled?

First of all, many stink bugs use weeds as host plants to gather and feed upon, so controlling weedy plants around vegetable and fruit gardens might limit their numbers. If stink bugs are a major problem, planting trap crops, such as sunflowers, is beneficial. Stink bugs prefer to feed on sunflowers more than some other vegetables. This situation can be used to the gardener’s advantage by mechanically killing or spraying stink bugs on trap crops while avoiding treating food crops with pesticides.  More information on trap cropping can be found here.

Additionally, stink bug traps are available. These mechanically trap stink bugs, thus reducing their numbers in the garden, but need to be monitored and serviced regularly. Several species of parasitic Tachinid flies are also predators of stink bugs. These flies lay their eggs on adult stink bugs. The fly larva use the bug as a buffet, slowly killing the bug.

Stink bugs are difficult to control with insecticides, but some measure of control can be achieved at their nymph stage with various approved fruit and vegetable insecticides containing pyrethrins. These products are readily available at local garden centers and feed & seed stores.

For more information, please check out the following resources:

When the Weather Warms, the Bee Swarms

When the Weather Warms, the Bee Swarms

A worker bee gathering nectar and pollen.

As the weather warms, it seems that all kinds of living things start stirring. From birds to bees, plants to ants, and gnats to tourists, the world comes alive in the spring. It’s those bees we’ll discuss here, because every year they swarm, and that can cause some consternation among the homeowners whose houses they invade.

Honeybees are vitally important to our wellbeing, as they act as pollinators for many of our crops. They supply us with honey and wax and are a source of livelihood for many individuals. Important though they may be, they can sometimes become a nuisance.

Honeybees are eusocial organisms. Each honeybee lives in a colony or hive that it cannot survive without. In fact, it can be helpful to think of the entire hive as a single organism, even if it is made up of many individuals. The queen bee is the only one who lays eggs, but she cannot forage for her own food. Workers supply pollen and nectar to the hive but cannot reproduce on their own. Drones, or male bees, exist only to mate and would quickly die without the support of their sisters.

When a queen reproduces, she lays eggs that develop into new workers. When the time is right, she may lay eggs that develop into drones, or new females may be fed a substance called royal jelly that causes them to develop into new queens. These new drones and queens are born in preparation for a new hive to be created rather than to add more bees to the existing one. The old queen will be the adventurous one, so the workers put her on a diet. Once she has lost weight (to make it easier for her to fly), she takes half the workers in the hive and goes out in search of a new place to live. One of the new queens, after mating, returns to the nest and prepares to continue the work of her predecessor.

When the old queen leaves with her coterie, this is called a swarm. When weather warms and nectar begins to flow, the

A swarm of bees looking for a new home.

bees travel from place to place looking for a good spot to live. Hollow cavities in trees are a favorite spot, but bee scouts often find what they think are perfect living places in our homes or sheds. While they are searching for a new place to set up shop, they may rest on trees or branches in large clumps. Do not be alarmed if you see one, as it does not mean they are nesting where they’ve stopped. Wait a while to see if they leave on their own or contact a local beekeeper to see if they want to collect the swarm.

If bees have taken up residence somewhere they’re not welcome, there are companies and individuals who may be able to collect the bees rather than destroying them. If removal is not an option, nuisance bees may be eradicated under Florida law, but this must be done by a certified Pest Control Operator.

If you have a swarm or hive on your property, check with the Department of Agriculture (Bee Removal or Eradication in Florida Resources) to find information and for a list of bee removal specialists. See our EDIS publication on choosing a pest control operator at Choosing the Right Pest Control Operator for Honey Bee Removal: A Consumer Guide. You can also contact your local Extension office for help with finding someone local.

Virtual Bee College Saturday Mornings March 2021 7:30-11:30 am CST / CDT

Virtual Bee College Saturday Mornings March 2021 7:30-11:30 am CST / CDT

Bee College

Join the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory for the 2021 Spring Virtual UF/IFAS Bee College! Imagine FOUR Saturday mornings in March 2021 of all things honey bees. Those new to beekeeping can follow the beginner track, while more experienced beekeepers can participate in sessions focused on honey bee stressors and other advanced topics related to beekeeping. Speakers include UF/IFAS faculty, staff, students, members from the Florida State Beekeepers Association, specialists from Bee Informed Partnership, and other honey bee specialists around the world! Participants can choose to attend one session or all four as a “Package Deal” for a reduced fee. Register for the “Package Deal” or for each session separately– whatever works best with your schedule.

Register Here

Downloadable Agenda

Bee College Info Site 

Avoid Firewood Pests

Avoid Firewood Pests

Fire in fireplace

Be careful when bringing firewood indoors. Photo credit: Larry Williams

Your firewood pile could be “bugged.” Many insects like to overwinter in wood. A wood pile is an ideal place for some insects to survive the winter. They don’t know that you intend to bring their winter home indoors during cold weather.

During colder weather, you can unknowingly bring in pests such as spiders, beetles and roaches when you bring in firewood. It’s best to bring in firewood only when you are ready to use it. Otherwise, those pests could become active and start crawling around inside your house. Many insects are potential problems indoors and there are usually control options once insects move into your home. However, preventing the insects from getting inside is the best approach.

If you store wood indoors for short periods of time, it is a good idea to clean the storage area after you have used the wood. Using a first-in, first-out guideline as much as possible will reduce chances of insect problems.

It’s best to keep your wood pile off the ground and away from the house. This will make it less inviting to insects and help the wood dry. It’s not difficult to keep the wood off the ground. The wood can be stacked on a base of wooden pallets, bricks or blocks, which will allow air movement under the wood. The wood can also be covered with a waterproof tarp or stored in a shed. Regardless of how it is stored, avoid spraying firewood with insecticides. When burned, insecticide treated wood may give off harmful fumes.

Some critters that live in firewood can be harmful to humans. To avoid a painful sting or bite from insects, spiders or scorpions (no Florida scorpion is considered poisonous, but they can inflict a painful sting), it is a good practice to wear gloves when picking up logs from a wood pile.

Firewood can be a good source of heat during our cold weather. If you’re careful with how you handle your firewood, hopefully it will warm you, not “bug” you.