Northeast WI Forest Health

Aspen blotch miner caterpillars

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov; 920-360-0665

The tops of aspen leaves will appear off-colored when aspen blotch miner caterpillars feed within.

The tops of aspen leaves will appear off-colored when aspen blotch miner caterpillars feed within. Photo: Linda Williams

If you’ve noticed aspen trees seem a little pale lately, you are probably seeing damage from aspen blotch miner caterpillars. Typically, these leaf-mining insects only affect young aspen trees, but this year I’ve found uniform damage on bigger trees with large crowns. Symptoms include thinned crowns, off-color leaves with blisters on their undersides, and, later in the summer, curling and browning leaves. Tiny caterpillars spend their entire lives feeding within the leaf; they then pupate into the tunneled-out areas. Moths emerge in August and spend the winter in protected places.

I have reported this insect each year since 2012 in northeastern Wisconsin. This year, there were aspen leaf blotch miners in Marinette, Florence, Forest, Oneida, and Vilas counties, which is similar to where they were found last year. Although defoliation can be severe, aspen trees usually tolerate the situation well. Many affected aspen trees will send out new leaves after feeding by caterpillars ends. Although damage may appear severe, the effects on the trees’ overall health seems negligible.

 

Rose chafer and Japanese beetle populations high in parts of state

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, (Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov), 920-360-0665 and Todd Lanigan, forest health specialist, Eau Claire (Todd.Lanigan@wisconsin.gov), 715-210-0150

Rose chafer adults defoliate many different plants, shrubs, and trees. Photo: Linda Williams

So far this summer, only a few reports of significant defoliation and damage by rose chafers (Macrodactylus subspinosus) and Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) have been submitted to the state’s DNR forest health specialists. Both of these leaf-skeletonizing beetles feed on foliage of many species of trees, shrubs and other plants. Although activity by Japanese beetles appears light this year, defoliation by rose chafers was reported in Marinette, Shawano, Waupaca, and Trempealeau counties.

Continue reading “Rose chafer and Japanese beetle populations high in parts of state”

Defoliation by spruce budworm low to moderate in NE Wisconsin

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665 and Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920.

Severely defoliated balsam fir in Vilas County.

Severely defoliated balsam fir in Vilas County.

In many areas this summer, damage from spruce budworm (Choristoneura spp.), a native insect, is less noticeable than in past years. Although heavy defoliation is evident north of St. Germain in Vilas County and at a site in Shawano County, only light to moderate defoliation has been seen in other areas. Light defoliation was observed in Bayfield, Florence, Forest, Marinette, Oneida, Shawano, and Vilas counties. Defoliation was less predominant last year as well, probably because of unusually heavy rainfall in spring 2017 which led to an increase in tree growth. This year’s spring was also unusually wet, resulting in increased tree growth.

Spruce budworm outbreaks typically last about 10 years; the current outbreak began in 2012. The last two years of exceptionally robust tree growth may help some of the damaged trees to at least partially recover. Since 2012, some areas of northeastern Wisconsin experienced three or four years of heavy defoliation; affected trees are either dead or declining despite good growing conditions.

White pine bast scale and fungus

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov; 920-360-0665

Branches in the mid- and lower-crown of this white pine are being killed by white pine bast scale and a fungal disease.

Branches in the mid- and lower-crown of this white pine are being killed by white pine bast scale and a fungal disease. Photo: Linda Williams

White pine bast scale and canker fungus has been identified in two sites in Oneida County. This insect/fungus complex is a new issue in the state; those who work with white pine should be alert for signs and symptoms.

White pine bast scale, a native scale, is tiny, black, oval-shaped, and lacks both eyes and legs. It uses a long stylet to siphon sap from outer layers of phloem (bast) of twigs and branches. White pine bast scales live under lichens on white pine branches. Although lichens don’t directly harm trees, they provide shelter for scale insects.

Continue reading “White pine bast scale and fungus”

Sparse-leafed elms and maples

Heavy seed production by a red maple. The Ohio State University.

Heavy seed production by a red maple. The Ohio State University.

By Todd Lanigan, forest health specialist, Eau Claire. todd.lanigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-210-0150 and Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayword. Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

There have been reports that some elm and maple trees in the state have fewer leaves than normal this spring. The likely reason is that several elms and maples produced an unusually large amount of seed this year, which trees do periodically. During a heavy seed production years, the tree will produce fewer leaves, which may make it appear sparse. Continue reading “Sparse-leafed elms and maples”

Defoliation by June beetles

By Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg. Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov; (608) 513-7690

June beetles defoliating an oak sapling at night.

June beetles defoliating an oak sapling at night.

June beetles (also called May beetles) are defoliating oak, aspen and birch trees in several parts of Wisconsin this spring. These beetles are unusual in that they feed on foliage at night – look for defoliation during daytime hours although no insects are present. Although the highest densities of June beetles have been found in Crawford and Grant counties in southwest Wisconsin, forest health staff has also received reports of the insect from northeast and west central Wisconsin. Continue reading “Defoliation by June beetles”

Forest tent caterpillar: surveys, prediction, and history

By Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward. Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov; 715-416-4920

Areas in northern Wisconsin with forest tent caterpillar defoliation during the peak year of most recent regionwide outbreak, from 1999 – 2002

Forest tent caterpillar larvae feeding on ash foliage. Photo: Paul Cigan

Late-winter surveys in northern Wisconsin for egg masses of forest tent caterpillars (FTC) suggest that numbers will remain low through 2018, continuing a 15-year trend, one of the longest documented intervals between FTC outbreaks in the state. Continue reading “Forest tent caterpillar: surveys, prediction, and history”

Defoliation by larch casebearers

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, (Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov), 715-356-5211 x232

The two cigar-shaped, tan objects sticking to the newly expanding needles of this tamarack tree are larch casebearer caterpillars, feeding on the foliage.

The two cigar-shaped, tan objects sticking to the newly expanding needles of this tamarack tree are larch casebearer caterpillars, feeding on the foliage. Photo: Linda Williams

As tamarack needles begin to appear, so do some tiny caterpillars that feed on them. Larch casebearers defoliate tamarack trees early in the season, first causing the trees to look pale green or yellowish, or even brown if defoliation is severe. This year I have been able to find larch casebearers wherever I look, but so far, I haven’t found any high populations of the insect. Continue reading “Defoliation by larch casebearers”

Region-wide needle tip browning on red pine

Typical appearance of needle tip browning on lower portion of red pine crowns

Red pine with needle tip browning on the lower crown. Photo: Paul Cigan

By Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward.  Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov; 715-416-4920

Although no tree mortality is associated with the condition, widespread needle tip browning on red pine has been observed for the second consecutive year across much of the upper Great Lakes region. The condition is heavier in some places than others, but once in a stand or location, tends to be evenly distributed. Needle tip browning is common on the lower half of mature red pine crowns. On two- to three-year-old needles, the outer half to three-quarters of the needles appear reddish brown to straw-colored while needle bases remain green. Black or dark brown necrotic bands and spots are often present on symptomatic needle tips. Lower crown thinning is also common on symptomatic pine. Newly impacted needles will gradually lighten in color from reddish brown to straw-colored as dead needle tips dry out through the growing season. Continue reading “Region-wide needle tip browning on red pine”

Forest health zones restructured

by Jodie Ellis, communications specialist, Forest Health team (Madison)
Jodie.Ellis@Wisconsin.gov; 608-266-2172

The number of Forest Health (FH) specialist positions in the state was recently reduced by one, going from seven fulltime positions to six. To reflect this change, the forest health zonal map was restructured to spread coverage between five forest health specialists (the FH specialist position for the Central zone, while not eliminated, remains vacant). The new assignments went into effect on April 3, 2018.

To contact a forest health specialist, please refer to the revised map below:

  • Northwest zone: Paul Cigan (Hayward), 715-416-4920, paul.cigan@wisconsin.gov
  • Northeast zone: Linda Williams (Woodruff), 715-356-5211 x232, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov. Also covering Lincoln, Shawano, Menominee, Waupaca and Oconto counties in the Central zone
  • West Central zone: Todd Lanigan (Eau Claire), 715-839-1632, todd.lanigan@wisconsin.gov. Also covering Taylor County in the Central zone.
  • Southeast zone: Bill McNee (Oshkosh), 920-360-0942, bill.mcnee@wisconsin.gov
  • South Central zone: Michael Hillstrom (Fitchburg, WI), 608-513-7690, michael.hillstrom@wisconsin.gov. Also covering Marathon, Wood, Portage, Adams, Waushara, Marquette and Green Lake counties in the Central zone.
  • Central zone: vacant
Restructured Forest Health zones

Restructured Forest Health zones

A fulltime FH specialist position, which had been vacant, was eliminated as part of the reduction of six positions from the Division of Forestry in the recent state budget. Because of the increased work load on the five remaining FH specialists, the FH program has permanently reduced or eliminated some of its services to customers to keep the staff’s work load at manageable levels.

Program services that have been reduced or eliminated include:

  • The DNR’s gypsy moth suppression program, which addressed population surges in areas of the state where gypsy moth is already established. This program was already in the process of being deactivated when the FH specialist position was cut. (NOTE: The Slow The Spread program, which is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), remains active. It targets gypsy moth populations in the western part of the state where gypsy moth has not yet established.)
  • Site visits to confirm EAB at the township level (digital images will be used for identification instead)
  • Site visits and digital diagnostics of small acreage (less than 10 acres) for private landowners

Forest Health team members must also reduce the number of outreach presentations provided to the public.

Please contact Rebecca Gray, Forest Health team leader, with any questions at Rebecca.Gray@wisconsin.gov or by phone at 608-275-3273.