My house is super clean which can only mean one thing. I’m procrastinating.
The decorations are down and the house is back in order. The sun is shining. I’m all out of excuses. It’s time to tackle the Magnolia Scale. Blech!!!
Last summer we discovered a severe scale infestation on our Tulip Magnolia. It was everywhere! I removed numerous branches, perhaps close to a third, since the infestation was so bad. We ordered beneficial lacewing eggs, hoping they would finish off the rest.
Now that the tree is dormant, it’s easy to see what remains. Though not nearly as bad as last year, dozens of red scales (the adult female) along with the immature male and female nymphs, cling to the young branches.
Today, with my bucket and gloves in hand, I spent an hour scraping off scale. They’re easy to see (bright red) against the trunk, but I had to stand on a step stool to reach all of them. After tossing them into a bucket, I went back with a warm, wet rag and wiped off the nymphs.
The overwintering nymphs are all over the tree! There is no way I could get all of them, but I sure gave it a try.
After giving the tree one last look, I sealed the scale in a plastic bag for disposable, and soaked the bucket, rag and gloves in hot, soapy water.
I’ll check on the tree again tomorrow, and if the weather warms up, I might take a hose to the underside of the branches to remove some more.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- When purchasing a young Magnolia tree, check the inner branches first for infestation. Apparently many of the trees have scale before you bring them home.
- Prune judiciously. Magnolias, especially mature ones, don’t handle heavy pruning.
- Time your pruning appropriately. I’ve read the best time to prune is late winter, early fall, after flowering and before new buds set. Given those parameters, you really need to stay vigilant.