Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Monster scale insects

Neolecanium cornuparvum
Magnolia Scale.

When planting, moving huge rocks and gardening extensively during the warm weather months only very obviously nasty things about our plants are noticed, like huge aphid infestations, black spot, mildew, premature yellowing of leaves. After all the leaves fell off our small "Jane" magnolia tree this Fall, I noticed red-brown bumps on the branches. At first I thought some kind of wasp had stung the branches and laid her eggs creating the galls like the galls on oak branches and leaves. But upon closer inspection and probing with my fingernail, the galls turned out to be some kind of critter! I peeled one off and a blood like liquid spotted my fingers. This looked like some kind of giant scale. I quickly set to work and took off any that I could find. That evening I did a Google search for scale magnolia. The scale is called Neolecanium cornuparvum and the Ohio State University website has a good description and pictures of the scale.
And also on the site.

The color of the scales that infested our tree looked redder than those on the OSU website and had little dimpled dark spots on the body, like those little indented spots on bloated female ticks. Many of the websites that discuss this scale recommend using oil and insecticide sprays. I am averse to using sprays so picking off about 50 scales from a 5 foot tall tree was not a big deal. I only worry that I've not gotten them all. If it becomes a recurring problem, I guess we'll have to resort to spraying. But hopefully that won't happen.

I love this weirdly interesting stuff. Maybe this is not so rare but this was the first time I saw something like this.

I just checked our magnolia "Stella" and found a few of the scales on it too. We'll have to keep on top of this before all of the magnolias are infested. I am including two pictures of the critters above this blog.


Blogger Kathy said...

You might like this site?: especially the Picture of the week.

10:22 AM  

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