Magnolia Scale

Magnolia Stellata’s spring display

This summer I noticed the lower branches of my Star Magnolia (Magnolia Stellata) covered in something dark, sooty and sticky. Examination of branches revealed small elliptical bumps, mostly on the underside of branches. This was a sure sign of Magnolia Scale.

The Penn State Extension website shows pictures, describes life cycle and offers control options.

Since my tree is not large I have chosen to address my infestation using a non chemical approach.

I chose to remove the scale by scraping them off with a popsicle stick and washing them off with a strong blast of water from the hose. This was a fairly tedious task. The nymphs/crawlers appear at the same time as the berries on the Mountain Ash trees turn orange. I have not yet found any crawlers but I understand they are hard to spot as they are pinhead sized black to reddish insects. I am continuing to blast the tree with the hose in hopes of dislodging any surviving crawlers.

I am sure this  is a process I will have to repeat next summer and beyond. I am also keeping an eye on other Magnolias in my yard.

I once read “to be a good gardener means closely observing all of your plants closely several times a week” My Magnolia Stellata can’t be ignored after its beautiful spring display.

authored by Joy Cullen

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