Magnolia Scale, Yikes!

magnolia scale

A while ago, when trimming off a few lower branches, I noticed sticky stuff dripping from my magnolia tree. Upon closer inspection, I saw blackened leaves, as well as a black residue on my white veranda rails and porch. Next came the swarms of hornet-like bugs attracted to the sugary residue. What a mess! Apparently, my tree is infested with magnolia scale, as described by the University of New Hampshire:

Magnolia scale feed on plant sap with piercing-sucking mouthparts and excrete a sweet, sticky fluid called honeydew. Unsightly black fungus called sooty mold often grows on the honeydew, making the leaves look dirty and reducing photosynthesis. Honeydew also attracts sugar loving insects such as ants and wasps.

University of New Hampshire

The Stages of Magnolia Scale

Instead of laying eggs, the adult female magnolia scale insects give birth to young crawlers, which then molt into adults sporting a waxy, outer soft shell that protects their bodies. If you discover whitish patches on the branches of your magnolia tree, that would be the time to treat the tree. Otherwise, the tree will suffer greatly.

Treatment for Magnolia Scale

Treating the scale insects at this stage is easiest. My magnolia tree is not yet fully grown so I can still reach all the branches, especially when standing on my veranda. I used another of my trusty Melaleuca products, a concentrated solution of thyme and lemon, called Solugard. I coated each white patch and sprayed the veranda and railing. I may have to repeat the treatment, will keep you posted.

You can also prune out infected branches and twigs if there are not many involved. Most of my branches are so that was not an option. Another solution is a pesticide specifically for the magnolia scale; you probably know what I think about pesticides.

Also suggested is a late April (before the buds open on the tree) application of dormant horticultural oil such as neem oil. This early treatment will kill the magnolia scale insects that have overwintered on your tree.

A cold winter helps too. Our last few winters here in Ottawa have been unusually mild so more of these insects survived on the branches.

Bring on the cold, just not yet please. We have several more months until I am ready for that weather, hoping for another beautiful autumn first.

Before the Magnolia Scale

I will be heartbroken if this gorgeous tree does not survive. Fingers crossed I caught the scale in time

Grocery Store Changes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you have noticed the changes in your favourite grocery store.

Plastic vs Paper

Years ago our groceries were packed in paper bags or boxes. To save trees (the popular cause at the time) these tree-reliant products were replaced with the now banned plastic bags.

For a few years, before they were completely banned, we were forced to pay for the plastic bags.

grocery store

Reusable Cloth Bags, are They Sanitary?

These cloth bags are popular, I use them too, but the retired laboratory technologist in me cringes at the prospect of the bacteria their soft surfaces inevitably collect at a grocery store. Especially when plastic bags were not even available at checkouts for meat purchases. Yuk!

Not to mention the viruses. Did you notice that cashiers were not touching these bags or even permitting them on their conveyor belts during the pandemic?

I disinfect mine often but am willing to bet that many others don’t.

To protect my cloth bags, I also grab an extra couple of plastic bags from the produce department to wrap my meat purchases in.

Reusing Plastic Bags

Most households in my generation or older reuse(d) the plastic bags with a stash somewhere in their homes, garages, cottages etc. In fact, my hubby just joked that we will have to go back to Florida (where plastic bags are still used to package purchases at most stores) to replenish our supply.

We didn’t need rules or by-laws to tell us the advantages of reusing.

Plastic Containers

Is it my imagination or now that plastic bags have been banned, does everything appear to be packaged in plastic? From bulk items to fresh herbs to fruit.

Some of this plastic packaging is of the sturdy type that I assume would take longer to break down than the flimsy, hole-prone bags we used to pack our groceries in. All of a sudden my blue bin is full of these containers which means more recycling and less garbage at the curb. In turn, this should achieve the goal of less dumping into landfills. Right?

Are we too stuck on banning plastic straws to seek a proactive approach? If the world is so fixated on plastic spilling into our oceans, why not put research into finding an efficient way of disposing of it?

Littering is the Problem

Littering is the problem here. Banning plastic straws, bags or water bottles so they don’t wash up on our shores or litter our roadsides seems somewhat misguided.

Instead, should we not teach our children and grandchildren to be responsible and respectful of the environment by properly disposing of our garbage instead of littering?

Oops, this post was not intended to turn into (another) rant on landfills. Let’s get back to the one about the grocery store changes.

Self Checkouts

Admittedly, I belong to the less tech-savvy generation that prefers a human cashier to the increasingly popular self-checkout options. Especially for a large grocery order.

grocery store

I’m guessing those that approve of self checkouts do so for their convenience and speed.

I do too when I have just a few items. My impatient streak has been known to show up in these instances when I’m in a hurry and behind several overflowing carts escorted by those prepared to spend the day in the store.

What changes at the grocery store are you most annoyed with?

Melamagic Works Wonders on Grease and Grime


I love all Melaleuca, non-toxic and biodegradable cleansers made with tea tree oil and other essential oils. Melamagic is right up there on the list of my favourite products. A heavy-duty cleaner made with tea tree oil, citric acid, and ginger essential oil, it works wonders on dirt, grease, and grime. Try it on most surfaces, including tile or vinyl floors, stove tops, BBQ grills, and even plastic furniture. It is not recommended on carpets or wood.

(Unfortunately) we still have a few of those once-trendy white plastic chairs on our decks at the cottage. Although stacked and covered over the winter, they still get grubby looking. At the beginning of every cottage season, I line them up and hose them off using Melamagic.

Melamagic, and all other Melaleuca products, contain no bleach or ammonia and create no harsh and dangerous fumes when used. It comes in a economical, concentrated formula, creating 32 gallons of cleaner when diluted with water.

I’ve also used Melamagic to clean out our pedal boat, another annual chore at the cottage.