RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Tiny bugs are invading hundreds of crape myrtle trees in the Richmond area.
The white specks that can be found on some of the flowering trees are insects called bark scale. Peggy Singlemann, a horticulture consultant and the founder of RVA Gardeners, said bark scale feed on the sap out of the trees. This eventually weakens the trees and shortens their longevity.
“This is such an aggressive situation as far as the infestation,” she said.
The insects aren’t a native species, bark scale came from Asia and were first seen in the United States in Texas. They then traveled to Virginia Beach and started spreading in the Commonwealth rapidly, according to Singlemann.
“It’s transferred by birds because the scale are very tiny, so they can get onto birds. It can be moved by the leaves blowing in the wind from one plant to another, or it can even be moved by bark, even by us,” she said.
In Richmond, the bark scale are affecting the Fan the most, Singlemann added. Ellen Betzhold says bark scale invaded two trees by her home.
“That suffocates the tree which is why it dies,” she said.
Betzhold lives in the city’s first district, so she reached out to leaders for a solution. The city told 8News Wednesday that the Urban Forestry Department doesn’t have a pesticide program, but they’re working on the issue.
“There’s nothing they can do which means the trees are going to die,” Betzhold said. “It should be a concern. They planted all the crape myrtles. They’re beautiful trees. They’re natural to this area. I love them, but they’re just all going to die. All of them.”
Singlemann said people can hire a professional to spray insecticide or they can buy and use the product themselves.
“I feel we need to sometimes weigh the best methods to get a quick control so we can get this underneath us,” she said. “Whatever I’m applying I want it to go specifically to the plant in to attack the issue I’m trying to control.”
Singlemann added the bark scale usually lay dormant in the wintertime but being vigilant about using multiple methods for treatment is the key to getting rid of them. She added the treatment can be a long process.