The Q&A Archives: Pests Eating Magnolia Leaves

Question: We have recently moved into a new house. There is a beautiful Magnolia (Tulip Tree) in the backyard. It flowered twice this past 10 months due to the weird weather in LA. It has just gotten it's new leaves and the tree is beautiful. I noticed leaves being eaten, it seems to be the lower branches, but I can see nothing on the front or back of the leaves, nor on the branches or trunk of the tree. Can you advise me as to what might be causing this and what I might do organically to make them stop?

Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.


It's difficult to recommend a control without knowing what the pest is. Scale insects are commonly found on Magnolia, but they are easy to spot. If you find damage but no insects, my next suggestion is that weevils might be feeding at night. Adult weevils hide in the soil during the day and climb up the trunk and branches to feed at night. You can go out after dark with a flashlight and try to find the culprits.

If weevils are the problem, you can use a sticky trap at the base of the magnolia, or cover the soil under the tree with polyspun weed barrier to keep the insects from easy access to your tree. I've been successful in keeping weevils from chomping the leaves of my rhododendrons (another favorite of theirs) by tying a cardboard tube around the base of the plant and smearing it with Tanglefoot, a very sticky substance found in most garden stores. Tanglefoot will trap the weevils. When the trap gets full, replace it with a new one.

Hope this helps!

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