Slugs and Scales and Disgusting Tales

snail and scale

Magnolia covered in scale

The title didn’t scare you off?

You thought we were safely passed Halloween and all things creepy?

What’s creepy about this photo isn’t the snail but the scale…all over my struggling Magnolia.  Two seasons of effort to remove it and it’s back, bigger and badder then ever.  Gross.

scale infestation

Scale infestation

Last year, when the tree was dormant, I spent an hour literally scraping all the visible scale from the tree. I went back over the branches with warm water, wiping down any residue. I went back two days later, removing what I missed.

The tree bloomed, but the scale came right back. Over the spring and summer, it spread to the entire tree, dripping sticky honeydew all over the shrubs below.

I hate giving up on this tree, but if I don’t remedy the problem, the scale will kill the tree.

I placed a call today to a certified arborist for a professional consultation. Ian Geddes has been a great help over the years, thinning and pruning tall trees, removing tree stumps and consulting on the health of our trees. I appreciate their expert advice.

snail in Magnolia

Just passing through

Now to get your mind off these creepy pictures, I’ll leave you with this: Dylan looking adorable on our hike earlier this week.

Dylan

Dylan

Addendum:

After I hit the publish button, WordPress told me this was my 500th post on Gardening Nirvana.  Instead of celebrating with flowers and fruit, I give you scale.

So it goes when you blog about a slice of life.  Please don’t hold it against me.  Alys

Snails and Scale: A Winning Combination?

No!

Scale and Snail

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.

Scale Removal

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?

Snail on a Tulip Magnolia

That was a long climb to slime a flower

Scale encrusted branch

Scale encrusted branch

Snail on a branch

Snail making tracks

Snail at apex of tree

Y do you ask?

DSC_0063

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.