En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 17, 2010

From: Morrow, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Insects on hybrid 'Ann' magnolia in Morrow OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have an Ann Magnolia. It is covered in all kinds of stinging insects and flies. This has never happened before. Is this a common problem for the tree? What should I do?


According the U. S. National Arboretum, Magnolia 'Ann' is a hybrid of Magnolia liliflora 'Nigra' x Magnolia stellata 'Rosea'.  M. liliflora is a native of China and M. stellata is a native of Japan, putting it out of our range of expertise, which is plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown.

In this article from the Ohio State University Extension Magnolia Pest Leads to Sticky Situation  we learned about Magnolia Scale. We have extracted a couple of paragraphs for clarity, but you should read the whole article, which gives suggestions for treatment of the scale, to take care of the flying insects problem. 

"Another indication of magnolia scale results from the large quantities of sap sucked from the plant as scales feed. The sap provides a low-protein, high-sugar diet, and in order for the scale to obtain adequate amounts of protein, the insect must ingest excessive amounts of sap. Much of this sap is excreted by the scales, which produces a clear, sticky, sugary substance known as honeydew.

This honeydew coats twigs, leaves and anything under infested branches, including cars and patio furniture. If the honeydew is not removed, a more obvious, unattractive black fungus known as sooty mold begins to grow. This is often the first symptom of infestation that people notice. Yellow jackets, wasps and ants also are good indicators of infestations as they are often attracted to the sweet honeydew on which they feed."

In addition, here is an article from the Penn State Cooperative Extension Woody Ornamentals IPM, with more information on controlling the scale, which causes the sap exudation, which attracts the flying insects you are seeing.  You might also contact the Ohio State University Extension Office for Warren County


More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Why did my Prairie Flax plant die in Austin, TX?
April 27, 2012 - Hello, We planted 4 prairie flax last fall in garden. They were all growing nicely until last month when I found that one of them has completely dried up and died. The plants are planted together a...
view the full question and answer

Bark splitting in old tulip tree in Red Creek, NY.
May 18, 2013 - Hello, We have a tulip tree that has some bark splitting I guess I would call it. The tree is older and very tall. On the north side of it starting at the bottom of the trunk to about 8-9 feet up i...
view the full question and answer

Pruning oaks in August from Pflugerville TX
April 30, 2011 - Can I do minor pruning on my Lacey oak and bur oak in August if it is hot and dry? I'd like to prune one limb from each. The Lacey oak limb is about 2 inches in diameter, and the bur oak limb is ab...
view the full question and answer

Failing to thrive of non-native rose bushes in Austin
September 24, 2012 - I live in NW Austin and I have lost one knockout rose bush this summer and it looks like another one is failing. The leaves on a cane turn yellow then brown. I do not see whiteflies or black spots o...
view the full question and answer

Rust on Blackberry
April 17, 2015 - I have two new blackberry bushes that I planted fall 2014. Only weeks after I planted the plant began to have rust color balls under the leaves then leaves began to die and fall off. When I returned t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center