South Central WI Forest Health

What’s That Orange Goo?

A slime mold perched on a vine.

By Michael Hillstrom, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Fitchburg;
Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov

What’s the orange goo on that tree?

Should I fight, or should I flee?

I bet forest health staff can ID!

Indeed, there are a number of types of orange goo in the woods during spring.

If it’s a lumpy mass of goo on a log, stump or mulch, then it’s probably a slime mold. Slime molds are an amoeba-like group of organisms called myxomycetes. They move very slowly to eat bacteria and organic matter. Slime molds are harmless, so unless it is covering something of value, just leave it be, and it will disappear on its own. Continue reading “What’s That Orange Goo?”

Phomopsis Galls Found On Northern Red Oak

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

Photo showing large Phomopsis galls on a tree before it has leafed out in the spring.

It is often easier to spot large Phomopsis galls before leaves come out in the spring.

Phomopsis galls are large woody swellings on the branches or main stem caused by a fungus. Across Wisconsin, Phomopsis galls can grow on hickory, especially bitternut hickory. However, in some areas of Wisconsin, they can occur on northern red oak.

Northern red oaks sometimes have hundreds of Phomopsis galls on the branches, ranging from as small as a tennis ball to as large as a basketball. Continue reading “Phomopsis Galls Found On Northern Red Oak”

2024 Spongy Moth Spray Plans Announced

By Art Kabelowsky, DNR Outreach and Communications, Fitchburg;
Arthur.Kabelowsky@wisconsin.gov or 608-335-0167

Photo of an airplane spraying insecticide on trees at Devil's Lake State Park in Sauk County.

An airplane sprays insecticide on trees at Devil’s Lake State Park in Sauk County. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has finalized aerial spraying plans for its 2024 Spongy Moth Suppression Program, with maps for the six selected treatment areas available online.

The treatment sites contain high-value trees at six state parks or forests in Columbia, Marinette, Sauk and Walworth counties. A total of 928 acres will be treated with an aerial spray of “Foray” bacterial insecticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki.

Continue reading “2024 Spongy Moth Spray Plans Announced”

Squirrel Damage To Maple Trees Showing Up Earlier This Winter

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff;
Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0665

Photo of a maple tree with some bark removed by squirrel feeding.

Squirrels have stripped off the bark of this maple tree to get at the sweet cambium layer under the bark. / Photo Credit: Linda Williams, Wisconsin DNR

Typically in the spring, squirrels can cause damage to maple trees by removing bark from branches and the main stem after the trees have been frozen all winter and the weather starts to warm up. This fall, before the January cold spell, temperatures had warmed up by mid-November and remained warm throughout December.

As a result, starting in late November fresh squirrel damage was being noted on some scattered maples in north central Wisconsin. Damage progressed throughout December and some trees have more than half of the bark removed from branches and the main stem. The sight of scattered bits of bark around the base of these trees is another sign of squirrel activity.

Continue reading “Squirrel Damage To Maple Trees Showing Up Earlier This Winter”

Woodpecker Damage On Ash Trees May Indicate Emerald Ash Borer

By Bill McNee; DNR Forest Health specialist, Oshkosh;
Bill.McNee@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0942

Photo showing woodpecker damage on an ash tree trunk, an early sign the tree might be infested with emerald ash borer.

Woodpecker damage is an early sign an ash tree might be infested with emerald ash borer. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages property owners to watch for woodpecker damage to their ash trees this winter. If damage is found, property owners should make plans to take action in the spring.

Woodpecker damage, often called “flecking,” happens when birds peck away some of a tree’s bark to access the larvae underneath. Flecking is a common early sign that an ash tree might be infested with emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect. EAB is the most damaging threat to Wisconsin trees, killing more than 99% of the untreated ash trees it infests.

Continue reading “Woodpecker Damage On Ash Trees May Indicate Emerald Ash Borer”

Forest Health Forecast For 2024

Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Hayward;
Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov or 715-416-4920

An aerial photo of oak and aspen forests showing heavy defoliation from spongy moth.

Oak and aspen forests with heavy defoliation from spongy moth. Additional defoliation coupled with ongoing drought in the upcoming 2024 growing season is expected to put significant stress on affected forests. / Photo Credit: Paul Cigan, Wisconsin DNR

Maintaining a healthy and productive forest often requires — more than ever before — a working knowledge of how to anticipate, prevent and mitigate environmental stressors that threaten to undermine it. The list of stressors includes drought, impact of forest insects and diseases.

In a recent and timely article, Denise Thornton of My Wisconsin Woods taps the expansive knowledge of the DNR’s Forest Health team and a state climatologist to bring focus to the threats facing forests this year.

She also lists steps that can be taken to ensure health and proactivity are maintained in your forests.

Green Light On For Oak Tree Work

Photo of fallen leaves from a red oak that show discoloration, an indication that the tree is infected with oak wilt.

Discolored fallen leaves from a red oak tree indicate that the tree is infected with oak wilt. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

By Art Kabelowsky, DNR Forest Health Outreach and Communications, Fitchburg Service Center;
Arthur.Kabelowsky@wisconsin.gov or 608-335-0167

With the weather taking its time to turn wintry, it’s a good time to remind landowners and work crews that now through the end of March is an ideal time to perform pruning, trimming and brush removal on and near oak trees.

This is a low-risk period for the trees to be infected with oak wilt, a fungal disease spread by beetles. When a red oak is infected with oak wilt, it will die that year. The disease also stresses white oaks, often proving fatal.

Continue reading “Green Light On For Oak Tree Work”

Maple Petiole Borer Causes Leaves To Drop

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff; Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0665

Photo of maple leaf found on the ground with broken petiole (leafstalk).

A green maple leaf found on the ground with a broken petiole (leafstalk) due to damage by the maple petiole borer. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR.

Some sugar maple trees in the northern half of Wisconsin experienced leaves dropping to the ground this spring.

These leaves were green and had no apparent areas of damage, but they covered the ground under some trees. A closer look showed these leaves had short petioles (leafstalks) that had been broken off when they fell, which indicates a tiny sawfly larva called maple petiole borer was to blame.

Continue reading “Maple Petiole Borer Causes Leaves To Drop”

Watch For Brown Spot Needle Blight

Photo showing white pine with yellowing needles.

White pine with yellowing needles; new growth is not affected. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR.

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff; Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0665

White pine in north central Wisconsin, as well as scattered areas elsewhere in the state, have many needles that are bright yellow. Brown spot needle blight (Lecanosticta acicula, previously known as Mycosphaerella dearnessii) is the primary suspect, although samples have been sent to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Health laboratory to determine if other fungal species are present.

Continue reading “Watch For Brown Spot Needle Blight”