Scale to the left, snail to the right,
No, I’m pretty sure it’s not a winning combination. For now, however, it’s what we’ve got. Ugh.
We had a major infestation last summer, with little to do for it while the tree was blooming. I pruned close to 30% of the branches, removing the worst of the infestation. Then, we waited.
Early this year, while the tree was dormant, I worked at removing all traces of the pest. Once I’d scraped away the hard scale, I took a bucket of warm soapy water, and wiped down every single branch, removing the black, sooty scale as well. I checked the tree the following day, removing what I’d missed.
They’re back! The infestation isn’t *as* bad, but it’s back nonetheless.
The interesting turn of events is the snails. I counted six or seven of them as I inspected the tree. I was momentarily hopeful. Could it be that this garden pest would actually snack on the scale?
That was a long climb to slime a flower
Scale encrusted branch
Snail making tracks
Y do you ask?
Nope! My research tells me they eat fruit, leaves, even paper, but not scale. Boo!
If you’re looking for pet snails, these are free for the asking. Time to move on to plan C.
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!!!
Adult Scale (Red)
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.
Scale in a Bag
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.