Statewide Forest Health

How to look for white pine bast scale and Caliciopsis canker

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Communications Specialist and Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665

The association between a tiny insect and an inconspicuous fungus is causing branch and sapling mortality. White pine bast scale (WPBS; Matsucoccus macrocicatrices) and Caliciopsis canker (caused by Caliciopsis spp.) are agents in an insect/disease complex impacting white pines (Figure 1).

A white pine tree showing branch dieback in the mid and lower crown.

Figure 1. Branch mortality caused by WPBS and Caliciopsis canker.

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Phomopsis galls

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Lab Technician and Communications Specialist, Eleanor.Voigt@wisconsin.gov

Galls are woody swellings on the branches or trunk of a tree and can be caused by insects or fungi. Winter and early spring are the best times to notice galls thanks to bare branches. One type of gall, caused by Phomopsis fungi, occurs on northern red oak, hickory, maple and several other tree species.

Numerous woody galls on the branches of an oak tree.

Phomopsis galls on the branches of an oak.

There will frequently be many phomopsis galls on one tree while nearby trees are completely unaffected, probably due to individual resistance differences. While small phomopsis galls have minimal effects on trees, larger galls can girdle branches, causing branch dieback. Galls grow very slowly, and many heavily affected trees survive for decades, even with a large gall on their trunk.

There are currently no treatment recommendations for Phomopsis galls, but you can prune and dispose of affected branches. Many landowners choose to let them be.

Deer hunters should avoid ash trees when placing deer stands this hunting season

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

This November, hunters should avoid placing tree stands in or near ash trees, especially in the southern half of Wisconsin, Door County and the Mississippi River counties. Most ash trees in these areas are dead or dying from infestation by emerald ash borer (EAB) and may unexpectedly snap or drop large branches. Place deer stands in non-ash trees to keep yourself safe from infested ash this hunting season.

Infographic showing four ways to identify ash trees.

A photo guide to identifying ash trees.

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Tree mortality continues in flooded forests

Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg, Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov, 608-513-7690

Wisconsin has had historically wet weather the last five years, and the impacts to trees are escalating. Forest health staff have noted significant mortality of trees along lakes and rivers from rising water levels. Trees growing in low areas that have not flooded in many years are also being impacted.

Photo of flooded lakeside forest and dead trees around margin of lake.

Rising lake water levels causing conifer mortality.

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Summary of spring 2020 balsam fir mortality event

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

The sudden balsam fir mortality event in Wisconsin in 2020 was similar to the spring 2018 mortality event, although the mortality this year was more scattered, and fewer trees were killed.

A balsam fir tree with a dead crown that has retained its needles.

Trees that died suddenly this spring retained their needles, which turned reddish-brown to brown.

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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”

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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