Magnolia dripping!!

Asked June 26, 2020, 3:59 PM EDT

We have lived in our house in Wyoming Michigan for 34 years. This year our magnolia, our beautiful magnolia started dripping all the time. People actually think it’s raining. Yesterday I looked up and found all this white bumpy stuff all over the branches. Seems I have an issue. Can you help me. We love our tree. But ...the carpenter ants love it too. Help me Mr. wizard! Please and thank you. PAULA WURM P. S. Don’t know how to take a picture On my phone and send it to you.

Kent County Michigan

4 Responses

It sure sounds like your magnolia has a scale infestation. This is really common for magnolias. MSU Extension has an information sheet on this subject. Here is the link to the web page: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/why-is-sap-dripping-from-my-magnolia-tree

Since your tree is 34 years old and beloved I would recommend you consult with a certified arborist to evaluate the health and vigor of the tree and provide you with a treatment plan. Here is a link to a resource to help you find a certified arborist in your area: https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/arboristsearch. I have personal (and positive) experience with West Michigan Tree when I had a tree that was in need of care.
If you want to try the DIY route then it is all about timing. Magnolia scale has one generation per year. Eggs hatch in late summer. Young nymphs emerge from under the female scale and spread out on the branch . This is the time they are most susceptible to pesticide treatment. Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are the recommended products. MSU Enviroweather is an online tool that can be used to determine when scale is hatching . The lifecycle of scale is temperature dependent. Here is the link to the website: https://enviroweather.msu.edu/

The substance that is dripping is what the scale insects excrete from feeding on the tree. The substance is sugary, sticky and turns into a sooty mold. It becomes a real mess as I am sure you have noticed. This substance is commonly called "honeydew" and attracts ant, bees and anything else looking for a sugary meal. Scale is tough to control. If an infestation becomes heavy and chronic it can do damage to and affect the health of the tree.

I hope you find this information helpful. Thank you for using Ask an Expert service.

Thank you so very much for your response. It pretty much goes with everything I had read on one of your websites. Just trying to make sure I was getting the right information. Problem is… It’s not just a 34-year-old tree, we have been here for 34 years. I think it’s like 50 to 60-year-old tree. It is the bell of the ball in the spring on this block. But I think we will get an arborist out here to see if it’s Even salvageable. I will go to all the links you gave me also. It was wonderful to even have an expert like you to answer my question. You are a great help. Have a great day.

Thank you so very much for your response. It pretty much goes with everything I had read on one of your websites. Just trying to make sure I was getting the right information. Problem is… It’s not just a 34-year-old tree, we have been here for 34 years. I think it’s like 50 to 60-year-old tree. It is the bell of the ball in the spring on this block. But I think we will get an arborist out here to see if it’s Even salvageable. I will go to all the links you gave me also. It was wonderful to even have an expert like you to answer my question. You are a great help. Have a great day.

My pleasure! I think you are making the right choice to have a certified arborist pay a visit. Best of luck to you!