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Invasive species killing Crepe Myrtles in Green Country

Invasive species killing Crepe Myrtles in Green Country (KTUL)

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale is a plant parasite that's killing Crepe Myrtles at an alarming rate in the Tulsa area.

The little white spots on the bark of Crepe Myrtles are home to the parasite.

"Underneath that shell, they are literally sucking the life out of your plant. Fifty or 100 wouldn't have any impact at all, but tens of thousands, yeah," said Barry Fugate, director of horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center.

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale doesn't typically limit itself to 50 or 100, though.

"One female can lay, in each season, 100 to 300 eggs, so keep multiplying that and you'll have an idea of just how many thousands of these you can have on your plant in a short period of time," said Fugatt.

Like the insects, Crepe Myrtles came from China and because the American version of these trees has never adapted to those insects, it is killing them quickly.

The bugs can be carried from plant to plant on the feet of birds or other various methods.

It is possible to protect your plants, however.

"It's called ultra-fine spray oil, and the time to spray that is now, but not on a day like today where it's 40 degrees. The temperature needs to be above 50 degrees. Very thorough coverage. It's not going to do a bit of good if you don't spray all the way around that plant. You want to coat this insect, what you're trying to do is suffocate the insect," said Fugatt.

If left unchecked, the millions of Crepe Myrtles scattered across the country could be wiped out.

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