Pip galls are small, tongue-like protrusions emerging from under the caps of acorns. / Photo Credit: Linda Williams, Wisconsin DNR.
Gall wasp life cycles can be complex. Did you know that acorn pip galls, which I’ve written about several times, have another part of their life cycle that is entirely different? This stage is called the woolly catkin gall.
Both woolly catkin galls and acorn pip galls are caused by Callirhytis quercusoperator, a species of cynipid gall wasp. This gall wasp takes two years to complete development by going through the two parts of its life cycle. Both parts of the life cycle are completed on northern red oak in our area.
Spruce budworm overwinters as tiny caterpillars (yellow arrow) that migrate to the buds before they start to swell in the spring. A magnifying lens is needed to see them at this stage. / Photo Credit: Linda Williams, Wisconsin DNR.
For the 11th consecutive year in Wisconsin, spruce budworm has caused significant defoliation on spruce, balsam fir and tamarack in some areas of the state.
This year, areas with widespread severe defoliation include Oneida and Vilas counties, with Forest, Iron, and Langlade counties also showing significant defoliation.
Examples of white “wool” coating on trees heavily infested with beech scale at Kohler-Andrae State Park (left) and in the Town of Beecher in Marinette County (right). / Photo Credit: Bill McNee (left) and Linda Williams (right), Wisconsin DNR.
Fourteen years after first detecting beech scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga, a non-native insect) in Door County, sites with high populations of beech scale have been found in additional counties. Beech scale is believed to have spread through the range of American beech in Wisconsin’s eastern counties, but until now has only been seen at low levels outside of Door County.
A dead terminal leader, resulting from an attack by white pine weevil. Photo: Linda Williams, Wisconsin DNR.
White pine weevil (Pissodes strobi) is a native insect that can kill the terminal leader of white pine, jack pine and spruce. Wisconsinites often refer to this insect as Tip Weevil.
The insects prefer to attack stout terminal leaders. When the terminal leader dies, lateral branches grow upward and compete to take over apical dominance. This can leave a noticeable crook for decades. If two or more lateral branches take over, forking can occur. New terminal leaders may be attacked in subsequent years, causing more crook or forking.
Spruce and jack pine tend to recover better from weevil damage than white pine because the lateral branch that takes over apical dominance often creates a less prominent crook.
With this spring’s dry weather in Wisconsin came predictions of the largest spongy moth population in years.
When spongy moth populations are high, we often see heavy mortality of the larger caterpillars due to two pathogens. Heavy caterpillar mortality will reduce the severity of the following year’s outbreak and often causes a population crash during the current year. If a heavy die-off of caterpillars is observed, please let your local DNR Forest Health Specialist know about it.
The statewide quarantine for emerald ash borer will end July 1, as one of several permanent rule changes proposed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Changes are coming to some of Wisconsin’s rules for plant inspection and plant control, following legislative approval of a proposal from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
Watch for defoliators in your oak trees this summer. You may have already heard news reports about spongy moth caterpillar populations being high this year, but there are some native caterpillars to watch for this year as well.
In 2022, oak leafroller caterpillars caused significant defoliation to oaks in areas of northeastern and northwestern Wisconsin, as well as in Blue Mound State Park. Many other areas experienced lesser amounts of defoliation from oak leafroller.
Spongy moth caterpillars clustered below a sticky barrier. Photo: Mark Guthmiller, Wisconsin DNR
This June and July, spongy moth populations are predicted to reach damaging levels in parts of Wisconsin. Populations began to rise in 2020, and this is likely to be the third year of the pest outbreak in some regions of southern Wisconsin.
At present, damaging populations are expected to be most noticeable in southern counties, counties to the north of the city of Green Bay, and in far northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior. Additional areas are likely to have high populations that are more concentrated in size.
By Anne Pearce, Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin
Spotted lanternfly is on its way to Wisconsin
Tree-of-heaven showing leaves and fruits. Photo: Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive insect that threatens a variety of plant species, mostly woody plants. It has not yet been found in Wisconsin, but it is steadily moving toward us from the eastern United States. Both juvenile (nymphs) and adult spotted lanternfly feed by sucking sap from the stem, branches, twigs and leaves of host plants. This weakens the plant and can contribute to the plant’s death. Because spotted lanternfly impacts a wide variety of agricultural crops (like grapes and hops), nursery crops (like roses), and hardwood trees (like maple, walnut, willow, and poplar), it is a high priority pest in Wisconsin.