Statewide Forest Health

Comments sought re: change in gypsy moth rule

Aerial spraying of Btk for gypsy moths.

Aerial spraying for control of gypsy moths. Photo: John Ghent,

The WI DNR is proposing to deactivate the gypsy moth suppression program as requests for treatment have fallen to very low levels and this small need can be met by private businesses. The DNR is taking input on the proposed change to rule NR 47.910. If you have questions, concerns, or comments about this proposal you may give your input by attending a hearing or in writing. Input must be received on or before Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 to be considered.

Public hearings will be held on Dec. 19, at 11:00 a.m. at DNR service centers in Fitchburg, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Eau Claire. Input may be given verbally or in writing at the hearing.

Written comments may be submitted by U.S. mail, e-mail, or through the internet. Written comments will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearing.

E-mail comments may be made at: (Please include “Attn: Andrea Diss-Torrance” in subject line.)

Written comments and any questions on the proposed rules should be submitted to:
Department of Natural Resources
Attn: Andrea Diss-Torrance
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921

Written by: Andrea Diss-Torrance, invasive forest insects program coordinator, Madison.; 608-264-9247

Recent finds of emerald ash borer in WI

Emerald ash borer (EAB) continues to be found in new areas in the state. Wisconsin tracks EAB at the municipality or township level. Quarantined counties are shown in tan; infested areas are shown in green on the map.

New county quarantines

EAB quarantine map. Counties shaded in tan are quarantined for EAB, green areas are townships and municipalities where EAB has been confirmed. Map courtesy of WI DATCP.

  • none

New finds in counties already quarantined

  • Monroe County — Town of New Lyme
  • Richland County — City of Richland Center

Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff.; 715-356-5211, x232

Updated forest health fact sheet – conifer bark beetle

Spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis)

Spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis). Photo: Edward H. Holsten, USDA FS,

The Division of Forestry’s forest health team recently updated another forest health fact sheet about conifer bark beetles. Like the oak wilt and hickory dieback and mortality fact sheets revised earlier this year, the conifer bark beetle publication offers information about biology, impact, prevention and management of the insects. The conifer bark beetle fact sheet is available on the DNR’s forest health webpage.

Written by: Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Wisconsin Dells.; 608-513-7690

Ladybugs, boxelder bugs and others that want to live in your house

Multicolored Asian ladybeetles search for places to spend the winter and often congregate in protected places.

Multicolored Asian ladybeetles search for places to spend the winter and often congregate in protected places. Photo: Linda Williams, WI DNR

This fall, some areas of the state saw large numbers of ladybugs (specifically multicolored Asian ladybeetles) congregating as fall gave way to colder temperatures.  Box elder bugs, leaf-footed bugs (or western conifer seed bugs), and brown marmorated stink bugs were also seen congregating this fall in areas of the state where they have been found before. These insects are attracted to homes and will attempt to find a way inside to spend the winter in a protected place. The urge to look for an overwintering spot is triggered by the first hard frosts and freezes of the season, but this year we had a fabulous warm-up after a cold spell which allowed the insects ample time to congregate on houses.

Western conifer seed bugs (sometimes called leaf footed bugs) on the left, and boxelder bugs on the right, also congregate in the fall as they look for warm protected places to spend the winter.

A Western conifer seed bug (sometimes called leaf footed bugs) on the left, and boxelder bug on the right.  These two species also congregate in the fall as they look for warm protected places to spend the winter. Photo: Linda Williams, WI DNR

If you’re having problems with these insects invading your house you can try to “build them out”.  Spraying the exterior of your house with appropriate pesticides to keep them out (which will repel all insects for a time) works well but it’s recommended this is completed by the last week of September or first week of October.  UW Extension offers a fact sheet that gives suggestions for keeping ladybugs out of your home.  When I get calls about ladybugs or box elder bugs inside the home, I recommend vacuuming the critters up, but always avoid squishing, since squishing them will stain whatever they are crushed on.  Be sure to empty vacuum bags that have ladybugs in them as the ladybugs will start to smell after they die.       

It’s not unusual for me to hear of folks mixing up multicolored Asian ladybeetles with Japanese beetles … they’re two different critters.  And, yes, multicolored Asian ladybeetles are indeed ladybugs.  Both exotic and native ladybugs feed on aphids and scales which means that they’re beneficial, but only the exotic ones will try to spend the winter in your house or garage.

Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff.; 715-356-5211 x232

Of historical interest…

Past reports from the 1992 and 1967 WI DNR Forest Health Annual Reports

25 years ago – 1992

European fruit lecanium (Parthenolecanium corni (Bouche))

Heavy infestations of this scale insect were reported on sugar maple twigs in Vilas and Price counties.

Jack pine budworm (Choristoneura pinus (Rohwer))         

The outbreak in the northwestern counties, which began in 1991, exploded this year (Figure 16). Over 114,000 acres of jack pine were heavily defoliated in Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn and Burnett counties. Egg mass surveys indicate extremely high numbers of jack pine budworm. The area of defoliation may increase in 1993. The present defoliation is not expected to cause significant mortality except in Highland Township, but another year of heavy defoliation in the same stands could cause 10-15 percent mortality. In Highland Township, Douglas County, extremely severe feeding produced significant. mortality and top dieback on several thousand acres of jack pine. Most of these stands are being harvested this winter. Moderate to heavy defoliation also occurred in Jackson, Juneau, Eau Claire, Marinette (1,650 acres), Vilas (2,960 acres) and Oconto counties. In Marinette County, 20 acres of 70-year-old jack pine were cut to release young jack pine and white pine. Jack pine budworm was causing severe top mortality. Evidence of budworm in the northern portion of the Monroe County Forest was observed on 35-40 year old jack pine (Sections 4, 9,16, T19N, R3W). DNR foresters have silvicultural guidelines available to manage budworm-prone jack pine stands.”

Continue reading “Of historical interest…”

Oak wilt detected in Sheboygan County; additional finds in northern WI

Alt text: Oak leaf from the first oak wilt detection site in Sheboygan County, showing bronzing coloration characteristic of oak wilt infection. Photo: William McKnee, WI DNR

Oak leaf from the first oak wilt detection site in Sheboygan County, showing bronzing coloration characteristic of oak wilt infection. Photo: William McKnee, WI DNR

Oak wilt, a deadly fungal disease affecting the red oak group, was recently detected in Sheboygan County for the first time. Wood samples were collected from adjacent symptomatic oak trees on the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit in the Town of Mitchell after the trees were spotted by DNR Forestry staff. The presence of Ceratocystis fagacearum, the fungus causing oak wilt, was confirmed through a DNA test done at the DNR Forest Health Lab and DNA sequencing done at the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center. On-the-ground control options are currently being examined.

Oak wilt is a common disease in the southern two-thirds of the state, but has been

Map of counties where oak wilt has been detected, with the recent Sheboygan County confirmation shown in orange.

Map of counties where oak wilt has been detected, with the recent Sheboygan County confirmation shown in orange.

increasingly found in the northern counties. DNR staff have recently reported first community detections in these northern counties already known to have the disease:

  • Langlade County – Town of Langlade
  • Sawyer County – Town of Edgewater
  • Washburn County – Town of Stone Lake

Oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Bayfield, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Taylor.

Additional information about oak wilt can be found at the DNR Forest Health website.

Written by Bill McNee, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Oshkosh.; 920-360-0942


Six new counties quarantined for EAB

Since the August newsletter, it was announced that six new counties would be quarantined for emerald ash borer (EAB). The find in Chippewa County was due to a vigilant landowner while the other finds were due to trapping by USDA APHIS.

Wisconsin counties quarantined for EAB (WI DATCP)

WI counties quarantined for EAB  (DATCP). Most of Wisconsin is EAB-free, including most of the northern half and the yellow areas in all
quarantined counties. EAB has been confirmed only in those cities, villages and townships
colored dark green.

Continue reading “Six new counties quarantined for EAB”

Look for next year’s gypsy moth infestations

Gypsy moth egg mass.

Gypsy moth egg mass

Early fall is the best time for property owners to determine whether gypsy moths will be a problem next year. Gypsy moth egg masses are tan-colored and about the size of a nickel or quarter. Egg masses will not hatch until next spring, which means landowners have plenty of time to plan to minimize gypsy moth damage next summer. New egg masses produced this year feel hard, whereas those that are older are soft and appear faded. Most egg masses will be found on tree trunks and the undersides of branches, but they can also be found on buildings, firewood piles, vehicles and other outdoor objects. 

Continue reading “Look for next year’s gypsy moth infestations”

New video on buckthorn control available

Common buckthorns retain leaves late into the fall.

Common buckthorns retain leaves late into the fall.

The following article offers a glimpse of the good work that happens after DNR awards grants through its Weed Management Area – Private Forest Grant Program (WMA-PFGP).  Dick Ballou, the driving force of the Cedar Lake Buckthorn Project, takes us through his efforts to raise awareness of that forest scourge -common buckthorn- and control its spread.  The next application deadline for WMA-PGRP grants is April 1, 2018.  More information on applying for the grant can be found here.

Imagine the frustration of eagerly awaiting your opening day of deer hunting, having your stand in a perfect location and learning at daybreak that the woods around your stand are not as you expected? Several years ago, I prepared for bow hunting and found a perfect location for the deer stand, except for one small problem, a 20-foot tall tree full of leaves. Thinking the tree’s leaves would be gone by mid-October, I placed the stand nearby and went home. Returning in October, the “perfect” location was seriously compromised by the same tree – full of leaves – obstructing my view. Later, I learned the tree was invasive common buckthorn that currently threatens woodlots from New England to Wisconsin and beyond. This experience led me to start the Cedar Lake Buckthorn Project and create this video on buckthorn control. Continue reading “New video on buckthorn control available”

Wettest year ever in Wisconsin

It’s official. January through July 2017 was the wettest Wisconsin has experienced in the 123 years data has been collected. The average across the state was 25.25 inches, which is 7.14 inches above average according to the National Weather Service.

Areas of northeast, northcentral, west central and southeast Wisconsin have recorded the wettest January through July since measurements began.

Total precipitation percentiles for the United States from January through July 2017. Overall, and for multiple areas of Wisconsin, it has been the wettest January through July ever recorded. Figure from NOAA

Flood and other storm damage have occurred to forests and urban trees in many areas of Wisconsin. We suspect storm damage from May to July has led to a number of new oak wilt infestations in impacted areas. The wet weather has also led to abundant leaf and needle diseases such as anthracnose. Plentiful precipitation has similarly played a role in insect populations. Japanese beetle larvae thrive with consistent soil moisture and the consistent rain in recent years has resulted in large populations of this pest across the Midwest. In contrast, the wet, humid spring led to another year of high mortality rates for gypsy moth caterpillars from disease.

Written by Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg (, 608-513-7690.