INVASIVE SCALE INSECT CHANGING MAUNAWILI LANDSCAPES
Several banyan, and other landscape trees, are falling victim to a tiny insect that is literally sucking the life from landscape trees. Once the insect population reaches a high level arborists are given no choice but to remove infested trees.
The insect making waves in Maunawili is the Lobate Lac Scale. Arborists discovered Lobate Lac Scale on Oahu in the fall of 2012. Since then, the scale insect has been found on a variety of landscape plants. Most notably is the banyan trees that provide welcomed shade throughout the islands.
After hatching from their eggs this scale insect crawls around the plant looking for a feeding location. At this stage of their life the insects can also be carried to new host plants by birds or animals. Once a suitable feeding site is found the insect inserts its mouthpart and begins feeding on plant juices. As the scale population increases the plant is deprived of vital water and nutrients and begins to decline.
Lobate Lac Scale insects can be hard to locate on a plant because they look like a small bump on the bark and may be only on higher tree branches. One clue to the presence of this insect pest is black sooty mold. The black mold can be found on leaves, branches, driveways, or anything else under an infested tree. Sooty mold grows on honeydew excreted by scale insects that are feeding on trees or shrubs.
This scale insect is known to feed on about 200 different species of trees and shrubs in the United States, but arborists can control the insect if the population isn't too large. Tree spraying, insecticide soil drenches and tree trunk injections have been found effective in controlling Lobate Lac Scale insects. Proper watering, mulching and reducing soil compaction can also help a plant resist damage from these insect pests.