My magnolia tree has a secretion. The secretion attracts mostly black wasps, but other insects are also attracted to it. The tree appears to be dying a slow death. The secretion catches fire when exposed to a lit match. The secretion stains anything it falls on. The secretion is sticky to the touch. Can you diagnose the problem and recommend a remedy?

What you're describing is Magnolia Scale, a very common problem for this species. Unfortunately, there is no way to control this pest until late this summer or into fall, when the current generation dies and the larvae emerge (if the tree is small enough, you can manually remove the feeding scales by gently scraping them off, or 'smushing' them). For severe infestations, we recommend a spring oil treatment, and a second year of fall treatments.

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