Watch for tree-killing pests this week and through the end of the summer. You could help save Indianas forests.
Citing the threat to Hoosier forests, Gov. Mike Pence has proclaimed the week of Aug. 14-20 as Forest Pest Awareness Week. The purpose is to put the states residents on high alert during a time when signs of such threats tend to appear.
Indiana is one of several states teaming to educate citizens to identify and, more importantly, report suspected tree-killers in their communities.
Emerald ash borer, which has claimed ash trees across the state and elsewhere, is just one example. Other forest pests may be on the way.
Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is an invasive beetle from China that can kill 13 different kinds of native hardwood trees. The USDA is working with Ohio to eradicate it from Bethel, Ohio, which is 35 miles from the Indiana state line. This beetle likely entered the country in wood packing pallets. People can unknowingly transport the bug in their vehicles by moving firewood.
To date 85,000 trees in more than 61 square miles have been removed at the Ohio site.
Alert citizens are the key to detecting pests like ALB before they get out of control, said Megan Abraham, state entomologist and director of the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology. If ALB escapes into the forest, it will add to the devastation from emerald ash borer.
August is significant because its show time for adult ALBs. Watch for a bug with an inch-long shiny black body with white spots, long black and white-striped antennae, and bluish feet. Maple, willow, elm, horse chestnut and birch trees are its favorite foods.
Signs of ALB include pockmarks in the bark of large tree branches and trunks. The pockmarks may ooze dark-colored sap. Large, perfectly round (half-inch diameter) exit holes are another sign. Wood shavings may be seen in branch crotches or around the base of infested trees.
For more on ALB see BeetleBusters.info. To report a suspected infestation, call DNR at 1-866-NO-EXOTIC.
Thousand cankers disease of black walnut is the new threat to Indiana forest landowners. Indiana has 31.5 million black walnut trees, a potential $1.7 billion loss if infected. The disease is caused by a fungus and a tiny beetle. The state already bans imports of walnut products from states with confirmed infestations.
This disease has not been detected in a black walnut tree in Indiana. However, the disease occurs in Butler County, Ohio, next to Franklin County, Indiana.
Watch for dried, shriveled leaves clinging to dead branches in the tops of infected walnut trees in August, said Phil Marshall, forest health specialist with DNR Division of Forestry.
Report any suspect trees to DNR at 1-866-NO-EXOTIC.
More on thousand cankers disease is at dnr.IN.gov/entomolo/6249.htm.
The public really is the first line of defense for our forests, Marshall said. We hope Hoosiers remember not to move firewood, educate themselves about the damage forest pests can do, and be on high alert for signs of these tree killers. If anyone sees the beetles or sees symptomatic trees, they should call DNR immediately.