Scale on a magnolia tree? How to treat it?

Jenny_RiosMarch 29, 2013

Ugghh .. so you guys have helped confirm in my previous post that there is scale all over the holly plants in my front yard .. and now as I'm examining other things, I'm afraid it's on my magnolia tree! Does that sound right? Can scale infect a big tree like that? If so, how badly can it damage it? Is it something I can treat myself or do I need to call a professional? Thank you so much for any advice. I love this tree and want to start taking care of it properly.

This post was edited by Jenny_Rios on Fri, Mar 29, 13 at 13:17

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Here are a couple more pictures. I am new to this and have not paid enough attention to my landscape over the years and am now paying the price! I want to fix things, though, and I appreciate any help. Thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:24PM
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One more of the whole tree ..

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:27PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yep, the tree has a bad infestation of scale, I'm afraid. These insects can be found on almost any kind of woody shrub, vine, ot tree. Your tree looks like the foliage is least it does from that one image of the whole tree.

I would call a full service landscaping or a certified arborist. You need to locate a proficient professional with the knowledge and equipment to properly inject a systemic pesticide into the soil. The timing had to be right, the rate had to be accurate, and the volume applied must be correct for the size of your tree. The hollies can be done, too, if your professional thinks that they aren't too far gone.

An experienced professional can help you figure out what's going on with this site. Is there a soil problem, drainage issue, lack of fertility, or something else going on that a knowledgeable pro can identify? A good pro knows how to get a good history of the site and will compare your plants with otheds in the neighborhood.

Then, he or she can give you options based on a realistic prognosis.

I would not recommend that an inexperienced homeowner take on an infestation of this magnitude, nor would I suggest that you yank everything out of the beds based on a handful of pictures.

I almost hate to say this, but you better take a good look at the Cycad (your Sago 'palm '). They can be prone to scale insect infestations when stressed.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:54PM
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Thank you so much. I started calling around today but since it's Good Friday I haven't been able to get ahold of anyone except True Green. But there are a few local places I want to talk to so hopefully I'll be able to have someone come out and take a look at the whole landscape next week.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 10:46PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

research bayer tree and shrub .. and do it yourself..

IF THE PRODUCT IS LABELED FOR THIS USE ... plant and bug .. see link ....

i know its labeled for scale ... i dont know about magnolia..

call the bayer 800 number if you have further questions ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 10:39AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Jenny; Did you have success w/ your magnolia? After a lot of rain last summer, my deciduous magnolia had all these black spots on the stems and just looked terrible. I've never had this type of problem before and thought it was a mold or mildew. However, I looked at it recently and there were white bumps on the stems so I took a sample to the agriculture agent and was told it was magnolia scale. She told me I can use horticulture oil to treat it (the tree is a baby- about 5 ft tall), so I am going to try that. She said Aug-Sept was the preferred time to treat it and that I could use a dormant oil then. Just wondering it you were able to save your trees and bushes and what kind of treatment was used. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:52PM
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Hi brandyray,

I have not treated anything yet. I talked to two local companies before last summer and went around and around with them. I had a contract with the first and they kept blowing me off about when they could come do the treatment. Months went by as I waited for them to be available. I finally called another company I had talked with initially and same thing, not even a call back from the actual arborist I'd met with. It's unbelievable! I guess these people don't care about paying business? They both came out and did an evaluation (for free) but would never show up to do the real work which would have actually earned them some money. I guess they are so busy they just don't care.

In any case, it got so hot that I was afraid to try to use an oil on the smaller shrubs .. and the scale seemed to not be as bad on the big tree (I know it's still there .. just maybe not in it's active season?) so I never did do anything. I know they need to be treated, though. My plan is that now, in the next week or two, I am going to treat everything (the magnolia and the shrubs) myself using Bayer Tree and Shrub as suggested by ken_adrian. I am also going to spray all the smaller things I can reach with an organic neem oil. In fact, I just picked up the neem oil last night.

I'm sorry I'm not more help. I will post an update after doing the treatments myself. Good luck with treating your magnolia. If you try spraying it yourself, will you let me know how it goes? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 11:18AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

I bought a product called Neem oil extract that is supposed to be an insecticide, miticide, and fungucide- we'll see... I will give it a try probably next wkend.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 6:47PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

If you would be willing to use a (supposedly mild) chemical, Movento (active ingredient spirotetramat) will do the job nicely. It takes some time to work since it has to move from the leaves to the roots and then back again. It must be sprayed without mixing with other pesticides or fungicides on clean leaves. Use together with light horticultural oils is recommended for increased effect (although in this case one must observe temperature limitations for oil use).

Another common drastic ingredient would be pyriproxyfen (in Europe it is commonly marketed as Admiral). This is not systemic. It's action is also enhanced when used with oils.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 7:42AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Nik, the products you've mentioned are not labeled for homeowner use in the US and probably never will be.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:29PM
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