Magnolia trees & sap-sucking scales

magnolia-scale-close-up_tn lawnsavers yard care company gta

Scales have a waxy & fuzzy looking protective cover

Looking for help with your magnolia tree care?  If you live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), please contact us.

Magnolias are always recognized as the harbinger of spring.  Their flowers are grandiose and magnificent.  Magnolia Scale threatens these trees and is one of the stranger and hardest to kill insects you’ll see.  Becoming noticeable at the end of June and all through July, it is normally only recognized once the tree is infested.  Scale insects cover themselves in a whitish dome for protection, so it is often mistaken for a fungus or other growth- but is actually an insect. It looks a lot like the puffs on a pussy willow. Scale is a serious concern – if left unchecked it will weaken and eventually kill the tree. We have been seeing them more often in the last few years, and it only seems to be getting worse.

The scale insects drink the sap from the tree, robbing it of nutrients. Then, adding insult to injury, they excrete a waste product called honeydew. Honeydew is a clear, sugary, sticky fluid. the honeydew drips from the tree and drops onto cars and patios making a gummy black mess, and to make matters worse, it attracts lots of stinging wasps, flies and other insects to your yard.

A fungus called sooty mould also grows on the sticky honeydew, turning the patio and tree’s leaves and branches black.

Prevention is the best defense.  If you have magnolias we can combat this pest problem with a proven 3 treatment approach involving injections and an insect management spray when the nymphs emerge in September or October. If the weather co-operates, we also have a narrow window for prevention in Spring before the tree’s new buds open.  Proper fertilization is also imperative and part of our program to help strengthen the tree.

magnolia-scale-close-up-2_tn lawnsaversIf your magnolias are infested right now, we can reduce the problem with a special injection each year. And as always, fortifying your tree’s health in the Fall with a deep root fertilization will strengthen the trees natural defenses by replacing the stolen nutrients.

Treatment takes time to take effect, and it will not eliminate honeydew dripping and the secondary pests like wasps until the scales are controlled. This can take at least 4-6 weeks after the first 2 treatments are completed.

Price for Magnolia Scale Programs are based on the circumference of the trunk near ground level, the size of the canopy, and the number of trees, so contact us right away when you find scale on your magnolias. The sooner the problem is identified, the sooner we can act to protect your tree’s health.  Pictures and measurement of the trunk circumference can help us provide a treatment program and price right away.

In the meanwhile, you can also help protect your trees. Scale can be scraped off of lower parts of the tree with a soft, dull plastic knife. Higher in the tree, a strong spray of water can knock some of them off. Do NOT use a pressure washer, though. That will harm the tree’s soft bark.

Other common scale insects are “Euonymus Scale” which appear as tiny white flakes on the stems and leaves of those shrubs. Depending on the landscape value of those shrubs, replacement vs. treatment options need to be considered.

FAQ About Best Lawn Care Practices

🌱 How Many Times a Week Should You Water Your Lawn?

You need to water at least once a week for at least an hour, this generally provides 1-1.5″ of water to the roots (a tuna cans height) (exceptions: 1. when you seed &  2. if you have an automated system 3. When we are experiencing extreme heat).
New Seeding Watering: Seed must be kept moist until established.  This will be influenced by the amount of sun, wind and heat you are experiencing in your particular area.  It is normal to require 3-4 short waterings per day to maintain a moist seedbed.  Use a light stream of water to lessen disturbance of the seedbed.

🌱 How Can I Control Insects And Pests Naturally?

Control the insect population by installing birdhouses or bat boxes to curb the number of unwanted flying insects around your property.  Unscented dish soap mixed in a water spray bottle is also an excellent natural pesticidal plant spray to reduce unwanted soft-bodied insects.

🌱 What is the Proper Height to Mow Grass To Keep It Healthy?

In the spring (May-June) and fall (September-November), your lawn should be kept at the 2.5 – 3-inch mark and in the hotter and drier summer periods at least 3 inches.  Contrary to popular belief, if you cut the lawn shorter it doesn’t make it grow at a slower rate, it can actually cause it to lose moisture and scorch.



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