Recap of June First Friday with Florida First Detector

Oak trees are important to our environment with various species growing throughout the world and 24 species native to Florida (90 in the U.S.). With the wide distribution of oaks, especially in the Eastern U.S., it is important that we protect these trees from invasive pests and pathogens. In our June First Friday webinar, we talked about the identification of quite a few pests and pathogens of concern to oaks. This included the flighted spongy moth (Lymantria dispar asiatica) (found in Northeast US), oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea), Tremex wood wasp (Tremex fuscicornis), oak splendor beetle (Agrilus biguttatus), oak ambrosia beetle (Platypus quercivorus), Japanese oak wilt, oak decline, and sudden oak death (found in CA). With many of these invasive pests and pathogens on oaks, we are concerned about oaks in both natural areas and urban spaces alike.

The two moths covered in the webinar, the flighted spongy moth and oak processionary moth, both can defoliate trees when populations are high. The fast rate of defoliation can contribute to the death of the tree and leave the trees more susceptible to other problems.

The Tremex wood wasp, oak spendor beetle and oak ambrosia beetles are all wood boring insects. These species harm oaks in similar ways by boring into the trees. Inside the tree trunks, the larvae create tunnels that harm the tree’s health. On the outside of the tree, this damage shows up as leaf yellowing, overall wilting, or girdling of the tree. In the case of the oak ambrosia beetle, the beetle also carries a fungus, Raffaelea quercivora, that can cause Japanese oak wilt.

Plant pathogens can be a challenge to manage once they are in a tree. There are limited chemical control options and sometimes only preventative measures. Depending on the pathogen, once a tree is infected, it may need to be removed. This can be true for invasive and non-invasive pathogens. For invasive pathogens (and pests too!), we rely heavily on preventing the introduction to new areas. We are constantly monitoring for the introduction of new pathogens like those that cause Japanese oak wilt, oak decline and sudden oak death. Identification of pathogens often requires an expert. If you are seeing unusual symptoms on oaks, reach out to your local county extension office.

Resources on Oaks and More

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What is the upcoming schedule?

We are meeting online via Zoom from 12:00PM-1:00PM on the First Friday of every month from Sept 2022-Aug 2023. Please visit this blog for registration information and the upcoming schedule. Stay tuned for more classes and dates coming up after August 2023!


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by Morgan Pinkerton

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.


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