Western New Yorkers should watch for signs of oak wilt and Asian longhorned beetles (ALB), two invasive dangers to trees. Neither has been found yet in Western New York, but if either is here, early detection could help stop the spread.
You might also begin to notice tar spot, which is common on maples here. It’s ugly, but doesn’t damage the tree.
Oak wilt disease is a fungal disease that affects both red and white oaks, but red oaks (pointy leaf tips) often die much faster than white oaks (rounded leaf tips).
Oak wilt symptoms include:
- Most or all of the leaves fall off of the tree in July or August.
- Leaves turn brown from the outer edge back towards the stem.
- Leaves of all colors will fall off the tree, and many will still have green on them
- Dieback may be visible starting at the top of the tree and progressing downward.
DEC tracks and manages oak wilt disease in New York State. If you see these signs on an oak in July or August, contact DEC’s Forest Health team for confirmation.
Asian longhorned beetle (ALB)
People who have swimming pools can look for Asian longhorned beetles (ALB) in their pool filters during August.
ALB are about 1.5 inches long, black with white spots, and have black and white antennae.
DEC is asking swimming pool owners to periodically check pool filters for insects that resemble ALB and report suspects either by emailing photos to email@example.com or mailing insects to DEC’s Forest Health Diagnostics Lab at 108 Game Farm Road, Delmar, NY 12054, Attn: Jessica Cancelliere.
People without swimming pools can help the effort by reporting signs of ALB in their communities. With more people currently staying at home, it is a good opportunity to pay closer attention to yard and neighborhood trees.
The ALB leave perfectly round exit holes about the size of a dime in branches and trunks of host trees. They also create sawdust-like material called frass that collects on branches and around the base of trees.
These pests attack a variety of hardwoods, including maples, birches and willows, among others, and have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of trees across the country.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets worked diligently to manage ALB infestations in other parts of New York State, successfully eradicating them from Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Islip, and Queens. The beetle is still actively managed in central Long Island, and there are active infestations in Massachusetts, Ohio and South Carolina.
You may be noticing black spots on your maple leaves, but don’t worry. Tar spot is a fungal disease that resembles splotches of tar on leaf surfaces, but it is mostly just a cosmetic nuisance. Heavy infections may cause early leaf drop, but the fungus does not cause long-term damage to the tree.