Prune oak trees in winter to avoid oak wilt

Leaves are down, temperatures are cooler, and that means it’s prime time for pruning oak trees, which can be infected by the oak wilt fungus if they’re pruned during the high-risk period April 15-July 15.

Beetles that can carry the disease from tree to tree are not very active now, and the trees are not vulnerable to infection. The beetles are attracted to fresh bark damage or wounds where tree limbs have been removed.

Firewood can harbor the fungus, too. If you suspect your firewood is infected, burn it, chip it or debark it before April. Once the wood has been dried over a year and/or all bark loosens, it can no longer spread oak wilt.

Oak wilt, identified in the 1940s, is widespread across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and along the state line with Wisconsin in the Upper Peninsula. Red oaks are most susceptible and can die within weeks of infection. These trees have leaves with pointed tips and include black oak, northern red oak and northern pin oak. Trees in the white oak group have rounded leaf edges and are less susceptible. Affected trees will suddenly wilt from the top down, rapidly dropping leaves, which can be green, brown or a combination of both colors.

If you suspect oak wilt:

• Report infections at www.michigan.gov/foresthealth.

• Contact a DNR specialist at DNR-FRD-Forest-Health@Michigan.gov or 906-203-9466.

• Verify an oak wilt infection with Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Clinic. Go to PestID.MSU.edu or call 517-355-4536.

• Visit www.michiganoakwilt.org for a listing of oak wilt-qualified experts.

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Learn more about invasive species and diseases at www.michigan.gov/invasives.

MDARD urges continued vigilance after dead spotted lanternfly cases identified in Michigan

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is asking freight carriers, warehouse workers and delivery drivers to be on the lookout for invasive spotted lanternfly after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed dead spotted lanternfly insects were found in Michigan in recent weeks. While the specimens found were dead, these cases demonstrate one of the many ways this insect could find its way into the state. There is no evidence of established populations of spotted lanternfly in Michigan.

First found in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, spotted lanternfly has been spreading rapidly across the nation. Infestations have been confirmed in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Ohio. If introduced, spotted lanternfly could seriously affect Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources. This insect could damage more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops, and hardwood trees.

Spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold can kill plants and foul surfaces. The honeydew often attracts other pests, particularly hornets, wasps, and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and complicating crop harvests.

MDARD is asking people involved in transporting and handling goods or freight to become familiar with identifying spotted lanternfly adults and egg masses, as both could become attached to vehicles or goods themselves and unintentionally be brought into Michigan.

Spotted lanternfly adults are roughly one inch long. Their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots. Open wings reveal a yellow and black abdomen and bright red hind wings with black spots transitioning to black and white bands at the edge. Egg masses resemble old chewing gum, with a gray, waxy, putty-like coating.

If you find a spotted lanternfly egg mass, nymph or adult, take one or more photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting, and report to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MDA-Info@Michigan.gov or call MDARD’s Customer Service Center, 800-292-3939. If possible, collect a specimen in a container for verification.

For additional information on identifying or reporting spotted lanternfly, visit www. michigan.gov/spottedlanternfly.

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