DNR warns Michiganders to watch out for invasive tree disease.

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Spring will be here before we know it, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants Michiganders to be on the lookout for an invasive disease that affects trees — beech leaf disease.

The disease affects beech trees and is caused by a microscopic worm that infects the leaves as they bud.

“The most evident symptom of beech leaf disease is darkening and thickening of leaf tissue between the veins,” says the Michigan DNR website.

This striping or banding can best be seen by looking upward at the tree canopy on a bright day. As the disease progresses, leaves may pucker or curl. While leaves on some branches of the tree may show signs of infestation, others may remain healthy.”

There are look-alike diseases to be aware of, too.

From the DNR’s website:

  • Beech leaf curl aphid causes puckering and curling at the leaf margin, with aphids or their cast skins usually visible inside the curled areas of the leaf, but usually isn’t harmful to tree health.
  • Erineum patch, caused by eriophyid mites, creates light green or yellowish to orange patches on the upper side of the leaf, rarely affecting overall tree health.
  • Anthracnose creates small brown or black spots on leaves that eventually cause dead areas. New leaves may curl. Fungi infect leaves and stems and are most active in wet spring seasons, with a limited impact on tree health.
  • Powdery mildew, affecting many trees and shrubs, causes beech leaves to turn yellow. It may cause defoliation but won’t kill beech trees.”

The disease was first found on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio back in 2012, since then it’s spread from Ontario all the way to Connecticut.

Because the worms cannot move on their own, the DNR asks Michiganders to not move materials made of beech tree, such as firewood.

It’s not in Michigan yet, but the DNR is calling on people in the state to be alert, and report the disease if they see it.

Michiganders can call the DNR Forest Health Division at 517-284-5895 or email them at  DNR-FRD-Forest-Health@Michigan.gov 

Reports can also be filed with the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool.

More info can be found at the DNR’s official site.

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