Northeast WI Forest Health

Wondering about large yellow wasps?

If you’ve noticed large yellow wasps flying around this summer, you may be wondering whether you’ve seen the Asian giant hornet (aka “murder hornet”). This probably gave you some pause considering all the headlines they received earlier this year,  but fortunately for Wisconsin and much of the Midwest, murder hornets have not yet been found in the region.

Close-up photo of cicada killer.

The cicada killer is a common native insect in the Midwest.

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Be on the lookout for beech leaf disease

By Elly Voigt, forest health lab assistant, Fitchburg

Beech leaf disease (BLD) is a relatively recently discovered, destructive disease of beech trees in the US. It was first observed in 2012 in Ohio and has since spread to areas of Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada. BLD affects our native beech species, American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and ornamental beech species, including European beech (Fagus sylvatica). The disease has not yet been observed in Wisconsin but could become an issue in the future.

Overhead view of beech leaves show puckering of leaf segments.

Symptomatic leaf puckering of a beech tree with BLD. Credit: Ohio State University.

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Revised aerial spray guide now available

By Bill McNee, forest health specialist, Oshkosh, Bill.Mcnee@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0942

Increasing reports of gypsy moth, forest tent caterpillar and other defoliators this summer may indicate rising populations and increased defoliation over the next few years. A recently revised guide to aerial sprays for landowners is now available.Cover page of the updated aerial spray guide. Continue reading “Revised aerial spray guide now available”

Interactive HRD stump treatment guidelines available online

The HRD stump treatment guidelines are now available in an interactive format to make it easier to obtain stand-specific recommendations. You can find the link called “Interactive guidelines” on the right side bar under “Additional Resources” at the DNR HRD webpage. The user will be asked a series of questions and then a stand-specific recommendation will be provided at the end. The interactive guidelines incorporate Exceptions and Modifications described in the guidelines. Check it out!        

Fall webworm activity in July

By Todd Lanigan, forest health specialist, Eau Claire, Todd.Lanigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-210-0150

Fall webworm started showing up in early July. This native insect feeds on deciduous trees and shrubs and appears every year in yards and forests. It is often noticed first by the loose webbing over branch tips. It can even completely cover a small tree with webbing. If you look inside the webbing, you will find partially eaten leaves, frass (caterpillar poop) and both live and dead caterpillars.

Fall webworm caterpillars atop

Fall webworm larvae feed within webbed enclosures at branch tips. Credit: Courtney Celley, US Fish & Wildlife Service.

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Reports of sudden balsam fir mortality

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

In early June we started getting reports of balsam fir trees rapidly changing from green to rusty red and dying in just a matter of weeks. Reports and observations are still coming in at the time of this writing, so this article gives a brief synopsis of what we’ve seen so far this year. Symptoms have been observed in some northern and central counties.

The top half of a balsam fir died rapidly this spring due to reasons we are still exploring.

Some balsam fir crowns died rapidly this spring for reasons still being explored.

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Report surviving elm in the forest

You can help keep native elm trees in the forests of Wisconsin! The US Forest Service continues to work on a project to identify Dutch elm disease (DED)-tolerant American elms native to Wisconsin forests. The goal of the project is to identify and propagate survivor American elms, especially from the colder hardiness zones 3-4, and develop a series of clone banks. Selections would eventually be screened for tolerance to DED. Ultimately, the goal is to make DED-tolerant American elm available for reforestation in northern areas, particularly as a component on sites currently forested by black ash.

If you live in hardiness zones 3 and 4, please look for evidence of surviving elms and report them to the US Forest Service.

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Forest tent caterpillar populations high in small localized areas

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

Forest tent caterpillar (FTC) is a native insect with periodic outbreaks. Reports of high populations have been coming in this spring from the towns of Nokomis, Three Lakes and Sugar Camp in Oneida County. There is some defoliation in these areas, but the geographic extent of damage is still limited. When looking for caterpillars in northeastern Wisconsin, it was not difficult to find at least one or two of them, which is an increase from past years when it was difficult to find any caterpillars at all.

Close-up photo of forest tent caterpillar shows the insect's unique "footprint" design that runs along the top of its back.

Forest tent caterpillars go through several instars, or growth stages. Colors vary between stages but all have the cream-colored “boot prints” down their backs.

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Reddish oak leaves not a cause for concern

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

Have you noticed any oaks looking kind of red this spring? Or maybe you’ve noticed that the leaves at the tips of the branches are looking red or maroon? 

Some oak leaves look red from a distance, likely due to a prolonged cool spring.

From a distance some oaks have a red hue, probably due to a prolonged and cool spring.

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Basswood leaves defoliated and trees looking thin

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

Basswood trees in Forest, Marinette and Oconto counties are looking very poor this year. The leaves are damaged, misshapen or completely missing. Several things seem to be happening, but the worst offenders seem to be a late frost/freeze and a suspected infestation by introduced basswood thrips.

Evidence of basswood thrips on a single leaf; some defoliation and dieback.

Evidence of suspected basswood thrips infestation in early spring.

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