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August is Tree Check Month!

While you’re out in your yard this weekend, take 10 minutes and check on the trees in your yard. The trees you’ve come to depend on to shade you in the summer and shelter you from winter storms are at risk from invasive species including Asian longhorned beetle and oak wilt. Keep reading to learn how to identify these threats and how to report their presence.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Asian longhorned beetles favor maple, birch, willow, poplar and elm trees, but can be found on a wide range of hardwood tree species. While this species is not yet in our area, high tree mortality rates make it a serious threat to our forests.
To identify this species look for:

  • Dime-sized exit holes in the tree
  • Shallow scars in the bark
  • Sawdust-like material on the ground or on tree branches
  • Dead branches on the tree
  • The beetle itself

To report, call the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at 1-866-702-9938. If possible, capture the insect in a jar and freeze it for identification. Pictures of the insect and tree damage can also help identification.

Asian Longhorned Beetle on a tree. photo credit: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APIS PPQ, bugwood.org
Asian Longhorned Beetle and shallow scars on a tree.
Photo Credit: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APIS PPQ, bugwood.org

Oak Wilt

As the name suggests, oak wilt specifically targets oak trees, both red and white varieties. It is caused by a fungus that inhibits the movement of water and nutrients through a tree’s xylem. While there are no cases in our region, there have been confirmed cases within the nearby Finger Lakes PRISM. To prevent the spread of oak wilt, don’t prune your oak trees in the spring or summer.
Signs of oak wilt include:

  • Leaves with brown edges
  • Branch dieback that starts at the tree’s canopy and progresses downward
  • Leaves that suddenly wilt and fall while still partially green
  • Fungal spore mats under the bark

To report, take photos of the symptoms as well as the tree’s leaves, bark, and the entire tree and email them to [email protected].

Oak wilt infested trees. Photo Credit: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
Oak wilt infested trees. Photo Credit: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org