Look for us in the Cadillac News! Our weekly column - "Conservation Corner" is featured on the front page of Section C every Tuesday. Here's this week's article:
Sentinel Tree Watchers Needed
In medieval days, kings would place watchman around the edges of the kingdom just to watch for possible invaders. Michigan is using the same concept to watch for highly destructive forest pests that are not far from our borders. The Eyes-on-the-Forest program, administered by Michigan State University Extension, has created a network of private individuals called the Forest Sentinel Tree Network. These individuals volunteer to check two to three times a year on specific trees on their own property, in their neighborhoods or in local forests to watch for appearance of signs of three forest pests.
According to Julie Crick of MSU Extension, the goal of the program is early detection and rapid response, with the objective that these, and other invasive pests, will be detected and reported to regulating agencies soon after arriving in an area. Eliciting a rapid response to confirm a new arrival will help these agencies work quickly to eliminate any new invasive pests before major damage and widespread infestation occur. The more pairs of “eyes” out checking the trees, the more likely it is that new pests or other problems will be detected early enough to prevent the kind of devastation that emerald ash borer has caused.
Reporting for the Forest Sentinel Tree Monitoring Program is done through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network. MISIN is an invasive species identification and mapping website developed by Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology.
The three pests that are of the greatest threat to Michigan’s forests are Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock wooly adelgid and thousand canker disease. Each of these pests kills the tree it attacks.
Hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) has already entered the state with yet uncontrolled infestations in Ottawa and Muskegon Counties. Crick states that pest experts hope that this pest will not spread to other areas in the western Lower Peninsula. HWA is a tiny insect that feeds on and can kill the needles, shoots, and branches of hemlock trees. Over time, growth slows as trees become less vigorous and trees may take on a grayish-green appearance. Infested hemlocks, especially large, old trees, are often killed when other stress factors, such as drought, are affecting trees.
Thousand canker disease is a fungal disease of walnut trees. It eventually kills its host trees by choking off the inner bark of the twigs, branches, and eventually the stem of the tree. Walnuts are not common in the Cadillac area, yet homeowners that have walnut trees in their yards would not want to lose them. Thousand canker disease has been confirmed along the southern border of Michigan in Ohio and Indiana.
The biggest concern to us in the Cadillac area is the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Similar to the Emerald ash borer, this insect feeds on the inner bark of the tree. Asian long-horned beetle feeds on many hardwood trees but, its preferred food source is maple. At present, ALB has been found in the areas surrounding Cincinnati, Chicago, and Toronto, in addition to occurrences in northeastern United States. According to Crick, it is absolutely imperative that we not allow this pest to get a foothold in Michigan. The good news on Asian longhorned beetle, is that the adult insect is a big bug and easy to identify, but by the time damage to a tree is easily noticed, the pest is gone. Knowing when to look is as important as what to look for.
Local, private individuals who wish to participate in the Forest Sentinel Tree Network have the opportunity to attend a training session where they will be taught how to identify the host trees as well as the particular insects and their damage. They will also learn how to report what they see. All that is needed is a pair of eyes and a willingness to learn, look, and report. Michigan needs as many eyes as it can get.
If you are interested in volunteering for this network and want to attend this training, please contact the Wexford Conservation District at (231) 775-7681, ext. 3.
The Wexford Conservation District has a long history of working with its citizens on conservation issues. We invite you to explore our website to learn about the many ways we can be of assistance.
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