Pest

New emerald ash borer county detections: an update from DATCP and DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), in partnership with the Wisconsin DNR, has detected emerald ash borer in four new counties (Dunn, Oconto, Pepin and Shawano). Please read this DATCP article for more information.

Adult emerald ash borer beetle.

Adult emerald ash borer beetle.

If you are a landowner and have questions about ash trees in your woodlot, contact your local DNR forester using the Forestry Assistance Locator.  

Gypsy moth populations rebound in 2020 – look for egg masses this fall

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

The summer of 2020 saw a major rebound of the gypsy moth population after several years of weather conditions that were unfavorable for the non-native, defoliating pest. A mild winter and average summer temperatures/precipitation during the caterpillar stage were all favorable for a population increase.

Gypsy moth egg masses are tan-colored lumps about the size of a nickel or quarter.

Female moth laying eggs on tree trunk.

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Oak webworms, blotchminers, skeletonizers and dead branch tips in late summer

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

If you’ve ever looked closely at oak leaves in late summer you know that you can find lots of interesting things on them this time of year. You’ll see anything from a variety of caterpillars and galls of all shapes and sizes to dead portions of branches caused by insects and diseases. These late season defoliators rarely cause actual health issues for the tree, and rarely require any control, but they can be very noticeable with some dramatic damage. Continue reading “Oak webworms, blotchminers, skeletonizers and dead branch tips in late summer”

Green-striped mapleworm in northern Wisconsin

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

Green-striped mapleworm caterpillars feed gregariously, so where you see one, you’re bound to see more. Their preferred hosts are red and sugar maple, but they can feed on oak and beech as well, especially if those species are mixed in with maples. As they feed, they leave behind only the main veins of the leaves. The adult moth is the lovely rosy maple moth.

Green-striped mapleworm caterpillar clinging to the underside of a maple leaf.

Green-striped mapleworm caterpillar.

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Spruce budworm and balsam fir mortality in northern Wisconsin

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

Spruce budworm defoliation was severe in many areas of northern Wisconsin this year. New needles on balsam fir and spruce were eaten, although in most areas the balsam fir had greater amounts of defoliation than the spruce. Feeding by this native caterpillar for several years in a row can cause trees to start to decline and even die, which is occurring in a number of areas of northern Wisconsin.

Mortality of balsam fir due to repeated defoliation by spruce budworm. Green trees in this photo, including hardwoods and pines, are not fed upon by spruce budworm.

Mortality of balsam fir due to repeated defoliation by spruce budworm. Green trees in this photo, including hardwoods and pines, are not fed upon by spruce budworm.

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Redheaded pine sawfly reported in northern Wisconsin

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

For the second year in a row, colonies of redheaded pine sawfly have been reported on understory red pine in northern Wisconsin, with the most reports coming from Vilas County. Redheaded pine sawfly was also noted in Portage County in central Wisconsin this year.

Redheaded pine sawfly larvae feed as a group, as shown in this photo where many sawflies are clustered on a single twig.

Redheaded pine sawfly larvae feed as a group.

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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”

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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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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