Magnolia scale is a type of "soft scale" so named because the females are hidden beneath a helmet-like soft leathery covering that provides limited protection. Soft scales can be squashed! This native insect is one of the largest soft scales found in Ohio with mature females measuring as much as 1/2" in diameter. The size and overall shape of mature magnolia scale females commonly make it a poster child for soft scales.
Magnolia scale females are "puffing-up" and dripping copious quantities of honeydew in southwest Ohio. This native scale has a strong affinity for non-native magnolias and associated hybrids. Common hosts include star magnolia, lily magnolia, and saucer magnolia. Native magnolias are more resistant perhaps because of natural defenses that developed through a shared evolutionary history with the scale.