06/09/03 - Lobate lac scale is killing south Florida "dooryard" Melaleucas and other plants

When is an exotic, invasive plant not a pest?
When it is the only tree on your property!

Just when park and natural preserve managers are starting to win the war against the invasive Melaleuca tree, south Florida homeowners are complaining that the biological control agents released to control the trees are killing their "dooryard Melaleucas."

However, according to John Capinera, of the UF/IFAS Department of Entomology and Nematology, homeowners are blaming the *wrong* insects.

The weevil and psyllid released to help control the growth and spread of existing Melaleuca trees are not responsible for killing existing residential trees. The weevil and psyllid do not normally kill existing trees, as even park and natural preserve managers depend mostly upon physical and chemical methods to do that.

The insect that is killing existing Melaleuca trees and over 140 other plant species in south Florida is the lobate lac scale, another exotic pest.

Florida County Cooperative Extension Service agents, ornamental pest control professionals and others need to know about this scale, how to identify it and teach others to do the same.

Unfortunately, we know more about which plants this scale kills than how it reproduces or how to control it.

For detailed information on the lobate lac scale see the Featured Creatures publication at http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/scales/lobate_lac.htm.

The UF/IFAS Pest Alert WWW site is at: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/pestalert/