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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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May 10, 2016

Warning: Japanese Maple Scale is an Urgent Threat to Our Area

In 2014 we identified a scale insect that had not been seen before in our area. With the help of the Department of Agriculture it was identified as Japanese Maple Scale. Since then the problem has become much, much worse.  Trees are being imported from nurseries in other states that do not have rigorous inspection protocols. They are selling to our local garden centers and nurseries who are then planting this infected plant material in your yards!!! Many landscapers and garden centers are not aware of this problem and certainly don’t know to look for the scale or how to identify it. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM! They are inadvertently spreading this infectious and damaging insect all over our state. JMS can infect a wide variety of plant material. It is called Japanese Maple Scale, but it does not just affect Japanese Maples! This little bug can and will infect over 45 genera of plants in 27 families including: maples, service berry, camellia, hawthorn, red bud, yellowwood, dogwoods, cotoneaster, euonymous, ash, locust, holly, sweetspires, privet, magnolia, crabapples, plum, pyracantha, pears, willow, stewartia, styrax, olives, lindens, elms, zelkova and many others. Scale insects can rapidly kill your trees and shrubs!

Since this insect is SO DIFFICULT to control, it is very important to apply Horticultural oil in the late winter – early spring to help knock down these populations, and suffocate any eggs. JMS has two generations per year and a crawler stage where babies are hatching out for as long as 6 weeks! The populations build up fast and are very small and hard to see. We have developed a control plan using sprays, systemics, and growth regulators to keep the problem under control, but it may take multiple seasons of close monitoring to knock a population out in one yard. As unknowing landscapers and nurseries continue to sell infected plant material, the problem is going to only get worse. Be on the lookout!

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