Horry And Georgetown Counties Are Now Home To An Invasive Insect That Is Threatening A Famous Tree


A common type of tree in South Carolina is in danger because of an invasive bug species.

The crape myrtle bark scale is its name, and crape myrtle trees are what it eats most of the time.

The first time they were seen in Texas was in 2004. They are from eastern Asia.

They slowly made their way across the U.S. after that, and by 2019, they had reached the Palmetto State.

But by the end of last year, arborist Todd Stephenson started seeing something he hadn’t seen before white spots on the crape myrtle trees that turned out to be crape myrtle bark scales.

“This scale isn’t like most. A lot scale are so small that it’s hard to see them with the naked eye. He said, “Not these at all.”

Dr. Juang Chong, an entomologist, said that these bugs are hurting crape myrtle trees in two ways. The first way is by taking the tree’s minerals. Second, they get rid of a sticky substance called honeydew, which helps a fungus called black sooty mold grow.

There are also bugs on the tree that make the bark turn totally black. “And the mulch, chair, or anything else under the infected tree will turn black,” he said.

The wood scales on these trees are from the same area, and crape myrtle trees are their main target.

But Dr. Chong said they can also eat other trees.

They can change how a tree looks, how it grows, and how healthy it is generally.

There aren’t many infections right now, but he thinks that will soon change.

“We know that crape myrtle bark scale will make their little hatchlings, the guys that come out of the eggs.” “The wind can pick them up and blow them somewhere else,” he said.

Stephenson said that badly grown and pruned trees are the ones that are most likely to get bark scales. This is also a good place for the scales to lay their eggs.

It’s always been bad to put a tree or crape myrtle over something. It’s really awful now. “This ought not to be done so that our trees can naturally fight off this new pest,” Stephenson said.

If someone sees these bugs on their tree, Dr. Chong said they should call a landscaper to take care of the problem properly.

Crapemyrtle bark scales can spread when someone brings an infected tree home, so people who buy a tree should look for white spots on it.

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