Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)

Leaf Feeders

Japanese beetles
Lee Townsend, University of Kentucky
Japanese beetles can feed on about 300 species of plants ranging from roses to poison ivy but basswood is one of their favorites. They usually feed in groups, starting at the top of the tree and working downward, and prefer plants that are exposed to direct sunlight. A single beetle does not eat much; it is group feeding by many beetles that causes severe damage. Adults feed on the upper surface of foliage, chewing out tissue between the veins. This gives the leaf a characteristic skeletonized appearance. For more information, see Entfact 451.


Sap Feeders

Crapemyrtle aphids
Jim Baker, North Carolina State University,
Crapemyrtle aphids, like other aphids, can reproduce quickly and induce common sucking pest symptoms like leaf yellowing and honeydew accumulation that leads to black sooty mold issues. Throughout most of their life, they are small and a pale-green color and develop small black spikes on their body as they age. As winged adults, they have a series of black markings on their wings and body.

John A. Weidhass, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that use their piercing sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap. They usually occur in colonies on the undersides of tender terminal growth in the spring. Heavily-infested leaves can wilt or turn yellow and senesce prematurely because of excessive sap removal. While the plant may look bad, aphid feeding generally will not seriously harm healthy, established trees. Some plants are very sensitive to feeding by certain aphid species. Saliva injected into plants by these aphids may cause leaves to pucker or to become severely distorted, even if only a few aphids are present. Also, aphid feeding on flower buds and fruit can cause malformed flowers or fruit.

Aphids produce large amounts of a sugary liquid waste called "honeydew". The honeydew that drops from these insects can spot the windows and finish of cars parked under infested trees. A fungus called sooty mold can grow on honeydew deposits that accumulate on leaves and branches, turning them black. The appearance of sooty mold on plants may be the first time that an aphid infestation is noticed. The drops can attract other insects such as ants, flies, and wasps that will feed on the sticky deposits. For more information, see Entfact 103.

Hemispherical scale
United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs,
USDA Agricultural Research Service,
Hemispherical scale is a small scale, between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch wide, that infests ferns, bamboo, and several other plants. They are brown and globular; they resemble a helmet when looked at in profile. Their feeding can cause plant stunting and they generate honeydew that accumulates on the plant as well. As an indoor pest, there can be multiple generations per year and development is dependent upon the surrounding temperature.


website content by L. Townsend and J. Larson  website design by P. Dillon   copyright © 2017 - University of Kentucky Department of Entomology
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture | S-225 Agricultural Science Center North, Lexington, KY 40546-0091 | 859.257.7450
An Equal Opportunity University | Last modified 04/23/2020