I have several Crape Myrtles in which the under side of the leaves have a light to medium brown suede type scale on them. Almost the entire underside of the leaf is affected. The affected leaves have a tendency to invert showing the underside to the sky. Any idea what this might be?
Hardiness Zone: 9a
Steve from Temecula, CA
It sounds like your trees have scale. These sap-sucking insects are relative of aphids. They look like small, rounded or elongated, brown, black, yellowish, or white bumps on stems and undersides of leaves. These bumps are shell-like or waxy in appearance and can be easily lifted or scraped off. Take a look around the leaves and grass below the trees. Is it sticky? Like aphids, scales exude a sticky substance called "honeydew." In the case of severe infestations, stunted or poor growth may result and in some cases, the entire plant can die. The honeydew also attracts sooty mold, which covers the leaves with a unsightly black soot and helps spread plant disease. Because mature scale insects are protected by their waxy shell, they are difficult to control with insecticides, and insecticides may harm beneficial insects. However, an application of dormant oil during the winter may smother scale. Also, immature crawler scales can be killed with the application of horticultural oil or insecticide in spring before they develop their shells. Beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps and lacewings help to control scale insects. If this description doesn't sound like your situation, you may just be looking at insect eggs of some kind. In that case, snip off a few small braches with the leaves attached and send them to a nearby university horticulture department or take them to a nursery and see if they can help you identify them.
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